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12 Jun 2019

Afef Abrougui, Ranking Digital Rights

Middle East & North Africa: Telecommunication cos. Ooredoo & Etisalat backslide in Ranking Digital Rights benchmark

"Arab region’s telecommunications companies fail to respect users’ digital rights", 12 Jun 2019

Internet service providers in the Arab region operate in one of the world’s more restrictive environments...Rights groups and experts have...reported steady declines in internet freedom in a number of countries... — including in Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Qatar — as governments have enacted draconian measures criminalizing online speech, engaged in targeted surveillance of human rights activists..., and shut down access...to...internet.... Etisalat (based in the UAE) and Ooredoo (based in Qatar) continued to be the two lowest scoring telecommunications companies in the RDR Index. The RDR Index evaluates how transparent companies are about their policies and practices affecting human rights — specifically users' freedom of expression and privacy. We evaluated Etisalat and Ooredoo on their...policies in their home markets, where UAE and Qatari governments actively restrict freedom of expression online and have a monopoly over private telecommunications markets. While a majority of companies...in the 2019 RDR Index made some improvements — including [those in] China and Russia — Ooredoo and Etisalat were among the few... to...backslide..., disclosing even less about key policies and practices...Both companies should: [p]ublish privacy policies,... [c]larify content and access restrictions,...[and] [i]mprove redress...