Doha News blocked in Qatar

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Online news site Doha News has been blocked in its home country of Qatar, allegedly because of licensing issues.

On 30 November the site reported that it had been blocked by Qatar’s two telecoms providers, but a reason had not been given. It has since come to light, the site reports, that licensing issues could be behind the blocking.

“In Qatar, telecom providers usually block websites flagged by their morality filters,” it said. “This generally includes sites with material that could be considered pornographic or critical of Islam. Meanwhile, reports of controversial political sites being censored in recent years have been few and far between.”

On December 4, Doha News announced it was “scaling back” its operations until the site is unblocked, reducing the number of articles it will publish “in the interest of protecting our team”.

Over the five days since the site was blocked, Doha News said, it has “come to understand that this was an intentional act, in part due to issues with our licensing.”

It added: “We’re continuing to speak to officials this week to see how we can resolve the problem. At the same time, we reject the idea that our news website should be blocked over licensing concerns — this is a clear act of censorship, and a fairly unprecedented one in Qatar.”

The site, which was launched in 2009, continues to be available outside Qatar, and on apps such as Google Play Newsstand and Apple News.

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