Friday, March 03, 2006

Big Brother Is Watching You.

George Orwell was pretty much spot-on with his predictions. CCTV cameras everywhere, Echelon, (the US National Security Agency's global spy system which captures and analyzes virtually every phone call, fax, email and telex message sent anywhere in the world) and now our friendly local ISP has announced a new policy of checking on Internet Cafe users.
In Dubai I bet they'll want the usual paperwork - passport plus two photocopies of the relevant pages, three passport photos, driving licence, e-card, health card, a deposit of Dh10,000 returnable if you can prove you're not guilty.
Gulf News, who don't claim to be our favourite English daily, have the story:

Internet cafes to keep records of customers

By Daniel Bardsley, Staff Reporter

Dubai: Etisalat has said a new policy of recording the names of all internet cafe users will not extend to keeping track of every web page surfers log on to.
In a few weeks' time, all internet cafes in the UAE will be keeping records of people who use the internet.
Internet surfers will have to show photographic identification before they can use the internet and details of when they logged in and logged out will be kept.
Abdullah Hashim, Senior Manager for Etisalat's internet arm eCompany, said the policy was being introduced in response to a request from the authorities.
Hashim added that most illegal internet activity was done at internet cafes rather than on home computers so it was important to know who was using these.
"The internet cafe is where people go if they want to do bad things like hacking or sending threatening e-mails. All over the world, most cyber crime is done from public places.
"If we discover that a certain mail was generated from this internet cafe, we'll be able to find which people came and used it at that time. Then the authorities will investigate it.
"It will help them and give them a lead but it won't necessarily solve it immediately. We cannot have a record of every web page people look at. It's just to know who was there.
"There is a degree of control in knowing that this person was at this internet cafe at this time," he said. He said some internet cafes have already begun asking for identification and the system is gradually being rolled out to the remaining venues. In total there are nearly 600 internet cafes in the UAE.
The new rule has echoes of the situation in the mid- 1990s when some of the first internet cafes in Dubai used to ask customers for their names. "It is a gradual implementation as we have to do some technical changes to identify each internet cafe. It should be completed in one or two months' time from now," he said.
Hashim said adults will have to show one form of photo identification, such as a labour card, passport or driving licence, before they are given a username and password that will let them use the internet. Customers aged under 16 will be asked for their name.
He added: "This policy is to protect the country but we want to strike a balance so we don't prevent people from enjoying the internet."

I do like the last bit. About Etisalat not wanting to prevent people from enjoying the internet.

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