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The measures are another sign of tougher cyberpolicing efforts by Western-backed leaders across the Persian Gulf amid growing concerns over perceived political or security threats since the Arab Spring uprisings.

The Web clampdowns, however, have brought outcries from rights groups and media freedom advocates that claim Gulf authorities increasingly are muzzling free expression in the name of preserving the powers of the ruling clans from Kuwait to Oman.

The new UAE codes — posted on the official news agency WAM — also raise questions about potential new red lines for the country’s huge expatriate workforce in which parodies and pointed criticism of the UAE are common fodder on websites.

It’s unclear, too, whether the codes could put a chill on media coverage of sensitive issues such as the rising profile of Islamist factions.


Rights groups excluded from EU talks

CAIRO — More than 20 Egyptian human rights groups say authorities excluded them at the last minute from a meeting with a visiting European Union delegation aimed at boosting ties with the 27-nation bloc.

The rights groups say that after initially being invited to a meeting Tuesday with the EU, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry abruptly withdrew the invitation.

Organizations focusing on poverty reduction and charity still took part in the talks.

The rights groups said in a statement the decision to exclude them reflects the current government’s shunning of human rights — a continuation of the policy of the ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak and the country’s transitional military rulers.

The Egyptian official chairing the meeting said Cairo wants to focus on fighting poverty, not building democracy and human rights.

From wire dispatches and staff reports