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Authorities plan to monitor cybercafé Internet users

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has voiced concern over a move by the authorities in the United Arab Emirates to monitor people going online in cybercafés.

On 28 April 2010, the daily "Emarat al Yaoum" reported on an interior ministry plan to check the identity of anyone using the Internet in public places. The step was justified by the fight against cyber-crime and child pornography.

"The fight against cyber-crime and child pornography is a legitimate one, but this step constitutes a real risk for respect of freedom of expression online," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

"The real reason for this decision is obviously the desire to keep files on the country's netizens, watch them and push them into self-censorship."

The move to keep Internet-users under observation comes at the same time as a population census is being held in theterritories comprising the UAE along with a standardisation of ID cards for all citizens.

The United Arab Emirates is on Reporters Without Borders' list of countries under surveillance on its "Internet Enemies" report. The authorities have set up effective filtering and on the pretext of blocking pornographic websites, they have made thousands of sites on a wide range of subjects inaccessible.

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