Restriction on Internet use in the Middle East on the rise: Internet cafés in Saudi must install hidden cameras

In addition to technical filtering and surveillance practices, more countries in the Middle East impose restrictions on Internet use in cyber cafés. The latest example comes from Saudi Arabia where Internet cafés have been ordered by the Ministry of Interior to install hidden cameras and provide a record of names and identities of their customers, as reported by Saudi Gazette.

This latest crackdown on Internet use includes banning the use of prepaid cards or unlicensed satellite Internet other than the one certified for use by the café.

Also, Internet cafes will now have to close by midnight and users under 18 years will not be allowed entry into the cafés. The Saudi Gazette added that police have started visiting Internet cafés to issue the new regulations.

Saudi Arabia is not the first country to implement such a system. In March 2008, Jordan's Ministry of Interior ordered Internet cafés to install cameras to monitor users, and to register the users' personal data such as their names, phone numbers and time of use, as well as the IP number of the café and data of Web sites explored by the users, all on pretext of maintaining security.

Another example is Egypt where Internet cafés users are also required to provide their names, emails, and phone numbers before they can use the Internet.