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7 Apr 2020

Access Now, Smex & 27 other civil society groups

Civil society groups call on govts. of UAE, Qatar & Oman to lift ban on Voice Over IP platforms, which limits freedom of expression & access to information

We... urge the governments of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and Oman to permanently lift the ban on all Voice Over IP (VoIP) platforms used for voice and video internet calls... [which have been] banned... under the pretext of protecting the economic interests of national telecommunication companies... This has caused serious problems for the people living in those countries, especially the majority of migrant workers and foreign national residents...

... VoIP apps such as WhatsApp, Skype, and FaceTime remain blocked despite persistent calls from citizens and residents... to allow the use of these apps in light of the public health crisis. These restrictions have a severe impact on people’s fundamental rights of freedom of expression, privacy,  and access to information... The governments of the UAE, Oman, and Qatar should unblock all VoIP platforms including WhatsApp, Skype, and FaceTime immediately and permanently, as well as to make concerted efforts to give people access to an open, secure, and reliable internet connection.