Freedom of speech organizations are condemning a decision by the Saudi Arabian government to force all online newspapers 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.
The Coming Internet National ID Card