Saudi Arabia forces all bloggers to get a license
Only Saudi Arabian nationals over 20-years-old may blog about news
The Saudi Arabian government has banned blogging and the setting up of e-news sites without a government license. All bloggers will have to register with the government and bloggers may only be Saudi Arabian nationals over the age of twenty and must possess a high-school degree, according to a document from the Ministry of Culture and Information.
Non-nationals will be banned from writing about news and chat room users are also encouraged to register with the government. Non-nationals will be allowed to blog about anything deemed appropriate that is not news.
The stringent new regulations, which went into effect on January 1, 2011, also state that all Saudi news blogs and electronic news sites will now be licensed and required to strictly abide by Sharia law and "include the call to the religion of Islam".
Blogs are now also defined as falling under the Saudi Press and Publications Law.
The topics that bloggers can write on are also being strictly monitored, giving the Saudi government carte blanche to shut down any websites they disapprove of.
All Saudi Arabia-based news blogs, internet news sites, internet sites containing video and audio materials and Saudi Area-created mobile phone or smartphone content will fall under the electronic newspapers.
The new regulations also require all news bloggers to provide detailed information on their hosting company. Many fear this information could be used to block access to a particular website across domains or force host companies to take blogs offline.
Users who post on online forums, internet users who communicate on listservs and guests in online chat rooms are also advised to register with the government under the new law.
The Ministry will consider giving blogging licenses to those who think they deserve it, according to the official regulations.
Anyone caught blogging without a license may face a $26,664 fine and a ban, possibly even a permanent ban.