09 September 2010

UAE Bans Communication

Recently, my boyfriend left for two weeks to Abu Dhabi to visit his family.  Normally, when he leaves we at least exchange Facebook messages if he can't text or e-mails if we're really desperate.  I was a bit surprised when he'd been gone for a week-and-a-half and I had yet to hear from him!

I'm not sure how I, social media uber geek, forgot about the dramas they had with Blackberry and didn't put 2+2 together.  But this was just a mobile phone, it didn't explain why there were no e-mails going through either.  However, we were able to communicate through his Hotmail account. A quick Google search and I found an article saying that they were possibly blocking Google mail thanks to the reintroduction of Google Voice! As progressive as UAE likes to make itself, one can forget that they have a [somewhat valid] concern for smart phone capabilities.  The boyfriend also has a Skype based phone, which would explain why his phone would not work at all - VoIP.

Because of the UAE response to this form of communication, it reminded me of something I mentioned before (I haven't archived my tweets so it's a bit hard to find).  I was concerned that studying politics and focusing on social media would be an unlikely pair.  However, the more I work in this industry, and the more governments respond to social media's existence, I realise that they are quite compatible.  I think while my educational background taught me focus on countries such as China, India and Iran as the major political actors, my interest in social media is linking those concerns with the Google, Apple and Microsoft issues of the world.  The further we move with social media and Internet technologies, the more involved politics will become in these matters.

How worried do you think the UAE should be of Internet communication?

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