Saudi Arabia’s blogging ban! Those who read the pages of this blog know our views about laws designed not only to impose limits on investigative activities of law enforcement , but also to freedom of information and expression, as was the case recently in Italy.
Now the news from Saudi Arabia’s blogging ban makes it clear that, in many countries, blogs are perceived by governments as a real threat, and if a (theoretically) democratic country such as Italy is to develop measures against Internet-based circulation of information, it is not surprising that much more drastic measures are applied in a country that was the first to try to control, for example, the use of BlackBerry phones, by demanding access to its encrypted files.
How Saudi Arabia licensing freedom of speech through a blogging ban?
In fact, according to a note from the Ministry of Culture of the Saudi kingdom, all the online media, such as online versions of newspapers, news sites, or simple blogs, will need to be registered officially with the government in order to undertake or continue their publishing activity.
According to an official statement of the Ministry spokesman, it is not a restriction on freedom of expression, but rather a useful measure to reduce cases of online libel and slander. Whether true or not, the move certainly is not surprising in a country like Saudi Arabia, where media are under strict government scrutiny, and where a journalist can be jailed if he publishes unauthorized news.
Even in the recent past there have been cases of bloggers being arrested or Twitter pages shut down or blocked, but this is the first attempt by the government to regulate (obviously in a restrictive manner) the entire landscape of online media. Of course, the Arab world of blogs is in turmoil and has certainly not taken the news lightheartedly.