Monday, January 10, 2011

When Autocrats Rule

Saudi Arabia bans blogging without a licence

"Freedom of speech organizations are condemning a decision by the Saudi Arabian government to force all online ewspapers and bloggers to register with the Ministry of Culture and Information.
Under the new rules, to be introduced next month, all online writers - and this appears to include forums and even short messaging - will need a licence, valid for up to three years.
The Saudi government says the move is simply designed to protect society - and points out that it was already censoring content anyway. Saudi Arabia has one of the highest numbers of bloggers in the Arabic world.
Applicants for a licence need to be Saudi, at least 20 years old and to have graduated from high school. They will also need 'documents testifying to their good behaviour'. Editors of online newspapers will need to be approved by the Ministry of Information and Culture.
Anyone caught blogging without a licence will be subject to a fine of up to 100,000 Riyal ($26,665), and/or a ban - possibly forever.
At the same time, the Saudi government has blocked the Arabic Wikileaks page.
The move has been condemned by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, which says it puts the Saudi government top of the list of autocratic governments not only in the Arab world, but worldwide.

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