Repressive regulations target Internet freedom of expression

first_imgNews to go further March 9, 2021 Find out more June 8, 2021 Find out more Saudi media silent on RSF complaint against MBS Reporters Without Borders condemns the new regulations for news and information websites that culture and information minister Abdul Aziz Khoja announced on 1 January. They reinforce the government’s already draconian efforts to censor the Internet, which has nonetheless continued to be an unprecedented space for expression in Saudi Arabia.According article 7 of the regulations, online media, the websites of traditional media and sites offering audio and video content or advertising will now have to apply to the culture and information ministry for a licence that will have to be renewed every three years. An applicant will have to be a Saudi national, aged at least 20, have a high school qualification and will have to be able to produce “documents testifying to good conduct.”These provisions are very repressive. They subject online publications to government approval and are clearly discriminatory. The age limit and high school diploma requirement will deprive many young people of their right to free expression, while foreigners are barred by the nationality requirement.All these online media will also have to identify the company that hosts them. This will allow the government to force the hosting company to suppress the site or its content and thereby render it inaccessible throughout the world.Online forums, blogs, personal websites, distribution lists, electronic archives and chat sites will henceforth have to be registered. Bloggers will able to identify themselves “if they want,” but anonymity is clearly regarded as undesirable. Receive email alerts Saudi ArabiaMiddle East – North Africa Help by sharing this information According to the regulations, the ministry would also have to approve the editor of each online newspaper, who will be the guarantor of the site’s entire content. It is not specified whether the editor would also be held responsible for the comments posted by readers. After an outcry about this provision, the minister yesterday promised to modify it. The ministry will now just have to be notified of the editor’s name. Its approval will not be required.According to article 17, any violation of these provisions will be punishable by a fine or by the website’s partial or complete blocking, which could be temporary or permanent. The fines could be as high as 100,000 riyals (20,000 euros), which constitutes a veiled form of economic censorship as many sites would be unable to pay. The ministry reserves the right to extend the applicability of the regulations.Under a law on technology use that took effect in January 2008, operating a website that supports terrorism is punishable by up to 10 years in prison while distributing pornographic content is punishable by up to five years in prison. The same law also provides for jail sentences for Internet café owners who allow their computers to be used to distribute content that violates “the Kingdom’s values.”Saudi Arabia is one of the 10 countries that Reporters Without Borders has identified as “Enemies of the Internet”. Online censorship is ubiquitous. The authorities say they are blocking hundreds of thousands of websites. The latest sites to be blocked include Elaph ( and the pages about Saudi Arabia on the Arabic-language version of WikiLeaks.An online political news magazine, Elaph recently ran a story about the impact in political circles of the release by WikiLeaks of US diplomatic cables revealing that Saudi officials had urged the United States to attack Iran’s nuclear reactors. Saudi ArabiaMiddle East – North Africa Follow the news on Saudi Arabia News Organisation RSF joins Middle East and North Africa coalition to combat digital surveillance RSF_en NSO Group hasn’t kept its promises on human rights, RSF and other NGOs say April 28, 2021 Find out more News January 8, 2011 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Repressive regulations target Internet freedom of expression Newslast_img read more

Left-wing daily fears raid at behest of military prosecutor

first_imgNews News Help by sharing this information Human rights groups warns European leaders before Turkey summit RSF_en Follow the news on Turkey April 2, 2021 Find out more July 16, 2008 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Left-wing daily fears raid at behest of military prosecutor Journalists threatened with imprisonment under Turkey’s terrorism law Receive email alerts to go furthercenter_img TurkeyEurope – Central Asia TurkeyEurope – Central Asia April 2, 2021 Find out more Reporters Without Borders calls on a military prosecutor not to carry out a threat to raid the left-wing national daily Taraf in order to recover a leaked document that was the basis for a 25 June report claiming that Turkey’s intelligence services knew in advance of an attack by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) on an army unit near the Iraqi border on 21 October 2007.The attack, carried out in Daglica, in Hakkari province, resulted in 13 soldiers being killed and eight others being kidnapped.Army high command prosecutor Zekeriya Duran wrote to Taraf’s publisher on 3 July asking for the return of “this document and the others” by 7 July, failing which he would be obliged to “have recourse to the security forces” in order to recover them. The newspaper’s staff has been fearing a raid ever since the deadline passed.“We condemn the methods being used by the military prosecutor with Taraf,” Reporters Without Borders said. “A serious threat is being made against the newspaper in an attempt to force it to reveal its sources. We urge prosecutor Duran not to carry out his threat and not to conduct a search of the newspaper.”In his letter to the newspaper, Duran said he also wanted to establish how documents belonging to general staff intelligence had come into the possession of “non-competent” persons.Taraf publisher Ahmet Altan said in a 4 July editorial that “this request smells like a threat.” Claiming he was ready to give the published document to anyone who requests it, he added that the “general staff should be more explicit about the document it is referring to.”The newspaper’s staff suspect that, although against the law, a raid will be ordered by a civilian prosecutor acting at Duran’s behest.In his letter, Duran cited article 326 of the criminal code about “documents concerning state security” and article 339 on “possession of documents relative to state security” as the grounds for his request. He also said it was a crime to obtain and reveal documents of vital importance to national security. News Turkey’s never-ending judicial persecution of former newspaper editor News Organisation April 28, 2021 Find out morelast_img read more