UAE blocks Skype again on New Years Eve

Published:  5 Jan at 6 PM
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Tagged: Australia, UAE
The UAE’s New Year’s Eve block on Skype, just as expats were looking forward to wishing their absent families and friends a Happy New Year, was inconsiderate at best and unkind at worst.

Expatriates in the UAE were looking forward to contacting their families and friends at home to wish them a Happy New Year when the UAE pulled the plug on the popular Skype app. The inconsiderate timing of the block wasn’t exactly a surprise, as providing a VoIP service is illegal in the emirates. A recent announcement from the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulating Authority confirmed it hadn’t changed its mind about allowing VoIPs to operate and was leaving the app on its prohibited Internet content listing.

Of course, a good number of expats immediately logged on to their VPNs and carried on welcoming in 2018 along with their loved ones in other countries, taking advantage of the fact that the server they were using was located anywhere in the world but the UAE. It’s to be hoped all those who’d downloaded their VPNs had selected the secure versions rather than those stuffed with undesirable extras such as hidden tracking, malware, browser hijacking, fraud, tracking leaks and other hidden dangers.

VPNs are a part of life on the internet nowadays, especially for expats living overseas in less-than ideal locations for a reliable online service. Paid versions are considered mostly safe, and are even more effective when protected by a paid anti-virus software programme. No-one nowadays believes Kaspersky really was running a spyware service on behalf of the KGB to help Donald Trump ascend to the US presidency.

Back in the UAE, users can actually operate legal VPNs providing they aren’t committing online crimes at the time. Legally, according to the TRA’s policy, VPNs are allowed in the UAE provided they meet stated conditions and criteria. Unfortunately, Skype, not exactly your everyday VoIP, isn’t legal and has told complainants there’s nothing much it can do about the ban. Good news for paid VoIPs – bad news for expats in the UAE.
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