Etisalat has blocked access to the Corbis website in the UAE, one of the world’s largest picture libraries.
The resource of stock film and photography footage comprising more than a 100 million images, is privately owned by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and is a vital art-buying tool for the region’s ad agencies and publishing industry.
It is not known why Corbis has suddenly fallen foul of Etisalat’s censorship guidelines, having been freely available without restriction for several years, though sources say the company is currently in talks with the telco giant to get its site unblocked.
The latest incident adds to an upsurge in criticism of Etisalat’s policies.
In July the company rendered the UAE’s Blackberry devices inoperable for several days after sending them a battery sapping ‘performance enhancement patch’.
The patch was revealed to be spyware potentially allowing Etisalat access to texts and emails sent by customers.