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Saudi Arabia

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T. Stein

on 6 March 2014

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Transcript of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia:
Censorship and Surveillance

Reporters Without Borders ranked Saudi Arabia 161 out of 173 countries for freedom of the press.
A number of sites are blocked according to two lists maintained by the Internet Services Unit
An interesting feature of this system is that citizens are encouraged to actively report "immoral" sites (mostly adult and pornographic) for blocking
A study conducted OpenNet from '02-'04 selected roughly 60,000 Web addresses to discover what content was being blocked and attempted to access those Web addresses as if using the Internet within Saudi Arabia, found that many sites containing pornography, drug use, gambling, religious conversion of Muslims,

Political Censorship
Social Censorship
There are many reported cases of journalists, bloggers, and other advocates against the 'Supreme Nation' who have been imprisoned and or taken away from their families and never heard of again.
Saudi Arabia's Ministry of the Interior imposed a ten-year travel ban on human rights defender Sheikh Mikhlif Al-Shammari on April 8, following his release from prison in February 2012. Al-Shammari, who has been an advocate for reform and democratic change in Saudi Arabia, was detained for 20 months for writing content deemed "disturbing to others.
Freedom House
Media Censorship in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is heavily censoring Internet-based communication tools:
WhatsApp (TBD)
Skype (TBD)
Twitter (TBD)
Google Translate
One of the world's biggest internet filtering systems, based on software by Secure Computing SmartFilter (a software designed in the US)
Saudi Arabia Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC)
Blue Coat System: large IT company based in Sunnyvale, California, that is best known for providing filtering and censorship devices for countries
2011-government introduced new Internet rules & regulations that require all online newspapers and bloggers to obtain a special license
Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy
The Basic Law declares that the Quran is the country's constitution
Government authorities frequently ban or fire journalists and editors who publish articles deemed offensive to the country's powerful establishment
Saudi Arabia has been controlled by the Al-Saud family, with King Fahd, the current king, the fifth in the Al-Saud ruling dynasty.

Government officials dismiss editors, suspend or blacklist dissident writers, order news blackouts on controversial topics, and admonish independent columnists over their writings to deter undesirable criticism or to appease religious constituencies.
Compliant government-approved editors squelch controversial news, acquiesce to official pressures to tone down coverage, and silence critical voices.
The government regulates what journalists say online and offline and is done behind closed doors with the oversight of Prince Nayef bin Abdel Aziz, the powerful interior minister.
Political Censorship
Insulted the prophet Mohammed on Twitter
Imprisoned because of the tweets he posted
The actual tweet about Mohammed was, "I love many things about you and hate others, and there are many things about you I don’t understand.”

In November 2008, Saudi activists launched an online campaign to support human rights and called for a two-day public hunger strike to protest the detention without charges of human rights activists.

Reporters Without Borders wrote a letter requesting the lifting of the ban on gay/lesbian websites.

The committee's reply: "After receiving your letter, a re-examination of these sites was carried out. As no pornographic content was found, the blocking was lifted."

Global Voices Advocacy/Global Voices Online

They are a network of bloggers and online activists dedicated to protecting freedom of expression and free access to information online.

The leak of an “urgent” memo detailing a government plan to impose surveillance on encrypted online communications, such as Skype, WhatsApp, and Viber has triggered sharp criticism from Saudi Internet users.

Social Censorship
Just this past spring, Saudia Arabia threatened to completely block Skype, Whatsapp, and Viber because of alleged 'security threats'
Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission announced that that all pre-paid SIM card users must enter a personal identification number the number must match the one registered with their mobile operator when the SIM is purchased
This would allow the government the ability to monitor all that is said on the applications since these applications are mainly used for communication between students and young adults

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