A news website published a sketchy story about Saudi female journalists — and all hell has broken loose, according to Tareq al-Homayed. Hedayah Al-Darwesh, chief editor of the website, strongly denied publishing the story, but it seems to me that they simply took it down after 13 female journalists lodged complaints to the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Culture and Information, the Human Rights Commission and the Saudi Journalists Association.

The incident gave Turki al-Sudairi and other old timers a great chance to attack online media. As head of SJA, he called MOCI and CITC to “regulating the issuing of website and online newspaper licenses.” Whatever that means. But hey, what do you know? Minister Abdul-Aziz Khoja said last week that the government intends to enact legislation for websites to require official licenses to be granted by a special agency under the purview of MOCI. Yeah, good luck with that.

I hate to be the first one to break the news to al-Homayed, al-Sudairi, Khoja, and the rest of the dead tree folks, but if we have learned anything from being online for the past ten years is that you just can’t control regulate the internet. I share the hope of John Burgess that the Minister floated this idea in response to the pressure resulted by this ridiculous incident. But even if he was serious about it, the truth is that we will have yet another one of those unenforceable laws that needlessly complicate the lives of everyone here.

I mean, seriously, can MOCI with all its bureaucracy handle this? Moreover, let’s assume that they can actually handle this, don’t they have more pressing issues to care about like fixing the failing state TV channels, open licensing for radio stations, and end censorship on books to name a few?

9 thoughts on “Sketchiness

  1. Well, theoretically that could be done. Open any book about Internet control and regulation and saudi and china are to Internet control as P&G is to marketing.

    Many cases were raised in Europe, Australaia, and in Asia against big websites and the cases were won, they were against yahoo in France and advertising any Nazi material, a Jewish australaian business man against the online version of the wall street journal, and korea or china asking yahoo to trace an email and give the gov all the info needed for them to track a certian someone.

    So in reality, ain’t nothing to it but to do it… It depends largly on who you are. Steve Tyler of aerosmith is trying to trace someone who’s been impersonating him online… But will he succeed?

  2. yes , just another law which has no need , no implication , no target !
    every now and then , one of the batmans comes and gives some BS statements .

    dont worry , the time came that everybody can speak freely , and inhales free AIR !

    my 2 cents

  3. I am doing my PhD on Internet Regulation.. this is the silliest idea I have ever come across! (and trust me I’ve heard some bad ideas in my time!)
    A few years ago in Q8, the government introduced a law to ban Bluetooth phones, as they were used to distribute “illegal martial” (Phonographic images).. The thing the legislators didn’t know (not enough research—just spontaneous Laws!) is that you cannot trace or prove Bluetooth activities (receiver or sender).. A few months later the law was dropped, as most phones today have Bluetooth integrated (and the market demanded it)… The moral of the story: money, time and effort was waisted, by introducing new laws without fully understanding the technology!! I echo your voice on wishing them luck on they new project :P

  4. I would urge one to not be contemptuous of the ability of government to regulate the internet.

    While it is true that dedicated seekers of information on the internet will unquestionably be able to nevertheless locate such forbidden internet sites, I would strongly assert that this is not the intended effect.

    The intended effect may well firstly be on casual users of the internet, and secondly on establishing a freezing of interaction with such internet sites.

    With regard to casual users, such a proscription is likely to be highly effective.

    With regard to establishment of a frozen relationship, such a proscription will indeed serve to retard open public acceptance of such forbidden websites.

    Even if zealous internet users do continue to access any forbidden internet sites, such users will do so furtively and secretly.

    Thus, the goals of those who ban the websites will be largely attained.

  5. Why is he prince Salman’s mouthpiece??!!

    They cover the news rather professionally, more so than any other Arab papers in the region.

  6. Susie Big Adventure Saudi Arabia Blog was recently blocked ..What a shame !….If Susie is reading this ..Please tell us your new blog.

Comments are closed.