Saudi officials issue new rules to internet cafes

Hidden security cameras mandatory, no one under 18 can use facilities.

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By  Andy Sambidge Published  April 15, 2009

Saudi officials have launched a crackdown on internet cafes in the kingdom.

The Ministry of Interior has made it mandatory for internet cafes to install hidden cameras and provide a record of names and identities of their customers.

The new security regulations also include a ban on anyone under 18 years of age from using the cafes, Saudi Gazette reported on Thursday.

Ministry officials have also ordered all cafes to close by midnight and that police have started visiting cafes to issue the new regulations and to ensure they are abided by.

3737 days ago
Ivor R.

Shock, horror and skepticism aside: ... the Saudi authorities are actually taking a step in the right direction; the number of incidents traced back to Internet cafes globally is high, and whilst most assume that everyone in Saudi has a laptop; fact is many still do not. Such controls will help reduce the incidents of Internet café abuse, and help keep lowly offenders in check. However, ‘open WiFi’ is still an issue as is generally the access type of choice amongst the more tech-savvy culprits. Major contributors to the ‘open WiFi’ abuse in Saudi are actually the, the thousands of coffee shops; unsecured careless home users, and hotel lobby ‘hot spots’ that create the biggest opportunity for all sorts of criminals trying to conceal their tracks. These ‘open WiFi facilitators’ pose the biggest challenge in trying to track connections and prevent/reduce the incidents of crimes/abuses that pose a challenge to authorities. The Saudi act is an actually a long-overdue ‘preventative measure’/deterrent and should be seen as such. The Saudi act is not a ‘magic bullet’ aimed at stopping criminals who use the Internet, it is a regulatory requirement and an initial deterrent to would-be Internet abusers. Points of clarification/Factual context: 1. Hidden cameras are not against the law if implemented by the authorities or where implemented for security reasons by an establishment - even under so-called 'international law' - which actually does not exist. 2. Not all criminals use their own/have their own laptops to commit a crime (its not just hackers we’re talking about). 3. Similar controls (hidden cameras); are already in place in most Western countries and international airports where free WiFi or paid Internet service is available. The truth is that globally: we already live in an Orwellian world - get used to it as whilst some controls are more intrusive than others; at the end of the day...... it’s there to protect you and provide authorities with legal recourse if you were ever to be at the receiving end/to be affected by such criminals. Bravo to the Saudi Authorities - great idea and initiative ;-)

3740 days ago

Sorry Harish, but you're wrong. A wireless network connection can be secured through encryption, which means that anyone wishing to use it will need to ask the administrator for access - so they can record the user's identity then. Furthermore, all devices connected to a network, be it wired or wireless, have a unique identifying number called an IP address which can also be used to track people's connections.

3740 days ago
Harish Rakhan

What can they do if people surf off wireless devices. Nothing. No trace nothing. Infact Cybercafe should be made to use a mandatory program that saudi authorities provide which will have social security number of the person using it. Thus expatriate or the countrys population all will have to be ready for the full wrath of law if they donot abide.

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