Saudi Arabia Requires License for Bloggers

Drawing media attention for its nation-wide Blackberry ban last year, Saudi Arabia made news again concerning its telecommunications last week when its government invoked a blogging license policy. According to the Al Arabiya News Channel, the Culture and Information Ministry now requires licenses for any domestic "e-publishing" site that wishes to register for a domain. The conditions include an age minimum (20 years), an education requirement (at least a high school diploma), and a clean record. The same article reported that traditional news organizations in the country, such as al-Wi'am, are in support of the government's decision to further regulate the Internet. Bloggers are more skeptical of the change. But according to a spokesman for the Ministry, the newly implemented law aims to supervise organization, not to increase censorship of Saudi websites. He also added, "We only need a name and a telephone number if possible."

Bloggers have reacted negatively to this news for the most part. A writer on Qusay lambasted the decision to make publishing online harder, saying:

"I am not ready to stand in line at a government office to register, I already do that for my national ID, my family ID, my driver’s license, my motorcycle’s license, my car’s registration. And if I had a bike I’d be standing in line for a motorcycle’s registration, I do not employ a driver nor a maid, other wise I’d be standing in line for those papers also."

For more information, visit ONI's Saudi Arabia Country Report.