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Self-censorship is pervasive on social media and state-run news sites generally refuse to cover controversial issues.

Despite several laws that routinely violate the right of users to freely express themselves online, the families of political detainees often take to Twitter to highlight human rights abuses and communicate on behalf of their loved ones.

The country’s information and communication technology (ICT) industry continues to grow, with the UAE now ranked third among Arab states in the ICT Development Index.

However, the telecommunications industry remains tightly controlled by the government, which directly or indirectly owns large stakes in the country’s two service providers.

The authority said the move was “the result of studies that suggested an increase in civil and criminal cases related to the misuse of SIM cards.”Authorities keep strict control over the online media landscape, blocking websites that criticize the government or tackle social taboos.

Self-censorship is pervasive on social media and state-run news sites refuse to cover controversial issues.

The state blocks access to political, social, or religious content that differs from the state’s narrative, from pornography and gambling to political discussions and LGBT content.

Etisalat maintains its nationwide fiber optic backbone, while in May 2015 the company selected Telia Sonera International Carrier (TSIC) as its preferred global internet backbone provider under a framework deal.

Cuts to undersea cables have disrupted internet access for Emirati users on several occasions, though government-instituted outages are not known.

In January 2016, Du warned customers of slower internet due to cuts at three submarine cable operators – EIG, FEA and Falcon.

Du pays a percentage of its profit and revenue as a dividend to the UAE federal government, which owns 39.5 per cent of the telecom operator through its sovereign wealth fund the Emirates Investment Authority.

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