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Tuesday, 14 May, 2002, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
Kuwait shuts porn internet cafes
Fifty internet cafes in Kuwait are reported to have had their licences temporarily withdrawn.

The internet cafes are accused by the Kuwaiti authorities of offering access to pornographic sites.

Pornography is strictly forbidden in Kuwait.

Kuwait's ministry of communication began random checks of internet cafes last week.

An official from the communication ministry has said that the random checks will continue to ensure that the cafes are using filtering systems to prevent access to pornographic sites required under Kuwaiti law.

A Kuwaiti newspaper, al-Rai al-Aam, has reported that some internet cafes have been offering sexual services in closed booths - including lessons on the use of the internet from Asian female attendants.

Regulating the web

New regulations on internet access are expected to be made law in Kuwait soon.

Kuwait has about 300 licensed internet cafes, according to the communication ministry.

The country has one of the highest internet access and usage rates in the Gulf region.

Internet access in the Middle East in general is a highly sensitive issue, partly because of access to pornography.

Some states have blocked access to web sites put up by political opposition parties.

States such as Dubai and Bahrain have sought to embrace online technologies whilst regulating internet access heavily.

See also:

01 Jul 99 | Middle East
Kuwait elections go online
08 Feb 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Kuwait
04 May 02 | Middle East
Net ban sparks protests in Bahrain
21 Jan 01 | Middle East
Dubai launches Media City
03 Nov 01 | Middle East
Saudis pay to surf censored sites
17 Apr 00 | Middle East
Internet clampdown in Mecca
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