Home If Blogs Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Blog (in Saudi Arabia): This Week in Online Tyranny

If Blogs Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Blog (in Saudi Arabia): This Week in Online Tyranny

Want to blog in Saudi Arabia? Get a license. Saudi Arabia has trotted out a couple of the old stand-bys, libel and porno, to justify a tightening of blogging rules in that country. If the proposal goes through, no Saudi will be able to write a blog post without a license.

The Kingdom has had a robust blogging life for years, though not without occasional arrests. (You don’t want to “annoy others” in the KSA.). But this move will make anyone at all who blogs without a license a criminal. Saudis are kicking back against this with particular contempt for the Ministry of Information, which would be the issuing authority for these alleged licenses.

Texting censorship suit settled.EZ Texting sued T-Mobile for censoring texts on its service. But the two companies have settled out of court. Any definitive judgment on the ability of a carrier to interfere with the messages of those it carries has been suspended for now. Rules regarding texting, which the FCC could codify, have been left unresolved and look to remain that way for the time being.

Vietnam starts its own social network. After arresting a prominent blogger allied to a new political party, this week Vietnam has introduced a state-owned and -controlled social network. Clearly hoping to control or at least monitor every aspect of its users’ lives, Go.vn will require users to divulge all personal information prior to granting access.

Afghanistan jumps on the filtering bandwagon. After years of free access to the Internet (if you could get on the Internet), the Afghan government has lowered the first boom. The typical filtering you see in that part of the world includes alcohol, drugs, pornography (including swim suits and dating sites). But, as always, news sites have now followed. One Afghan site, Benawa, is already blocked and several others are on the chopping block.

Facebook discovers privacy. After years as one of the worst online companies for privacy, Facebook has made something of a turn around. Although still complex enough to challenge its utility, it’s a good move in the right direction. Users can make completely private groups (again) and messages and posts will be easier to aim at the right (and only the right) recipients.

Saudi button from Wikimedia Commons

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