Saudi Arabia to impose restrictions on online content production, including on YouTube

The chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Commission for Audiovisual Media, Dr. Riyad Najm, said his commission will start putting restrictions on content produced online, including on YouTube. He said Saudis wishing to post content to YouTube will have to get a license that explains content production terms and conditions.

Dr. Najm announced the restrictions (AR) at a meeting with businessmen and the media at a local chamber of commerce, held on December 1, 2013. When asked by al-Hayat newspaper whether the commission will censor online audiovisual content, he said among his commission’s responsibilities is to monitor online content broadcast via the Internet on websites such as YouTube. He said “no country in the world allows no censorship.” He added that the difference between one country and another is the extent of the terms and conditions in place; "they increase in one country, but are reduced in another depending on the traditions and norms in each society.” He said the aim behind these restrictions is to “contain the youth’s energy, which entered this field without knowing what the allowed ceiling is.” He noted that doing so is going to be very difficult, and efforts to circumvent the measures are expected.

Reuters reported that Saudis have been broadcasting content on YouTube that addresses “serious social issues through humor." The news agency noted that restrictions imposed by morality police on Saudi public spaces “have created a uniquely captive audience for web-based news and entertainment.” Saudi Arabia is now the biggest user of YouTube per capita in the world.