Saudi Arabia has for long faced criticism and scrutiny for not allowing the country's press and the people to express themselves without any fear of reprisal. The criticism is sure to get louder now that the government has decided to require bloggers and e-news sites to obtain a license before they start.
According to The Economic Times,
“According to the new conditions by country's Culture and Information Ministry, anyone who wants to open a blog, an online newspaper, or any similar forms of e-publishing must be of Saudi nationality, over 20 years in age, and must have a high school or higher qualification.
The applicant must be with a good record of appropriate behaviour conduct, and should have a license from the Ministry, Al Arabiya said.
All license holders will now have to display their license information on their websites.”
Eman Al Nafjan, a Saudi blogger, has launched a petition through Change.org asking Saudi authorities to “stop blocking online freedom of speech”.
Saudi Jeans, perhaps the most popular blog chronicling life and times in the country,is critical of the new law and say that they will not register with the government.
“I have no plan to register my blog with MOCI(Saudi ministry of culture and information), but if you are considering that choice you probably want to know that not anyone can do this as they please.”
Looks like the Saudi authorities will hear strong internal criticism about their policy this time, perhaps a signal that things are changing in the country.