The spokeperson for the Saudi ministry of Information, Mr. Abdulrahman al Haza’a today came out on AlArabiya news network and announced that a new bill of laws will be coming out soon to monitor what Saudis write on the internet. When I first listened to it, it kind of made sense since at the beginning he was saying that news websites have to register and apply for a license and in return the ministry would assist with logistics and access. However he then moved on to talking about forums and blogs, saying that these too have to register and apply for a license. What does that mean? He didn’t elaborate and kept repeating that soon a detailed and clear bill will come out. No matter what it means, it is extremely worrisome. Twitter has been going crazy with outrage, questions and rumours on the hashtag #Haza3 which is the spokesperson’s last name. Aren’t our freedoms curbed enough? Am I going to need written permission from my guardian to maintain this blog? Do I need a paper from work too? Do I have to run everything by the ministry before posting? How about if instead of blogging, bloggers wrote the exact same stuff in consecutive Tweets and on Facebook notes, what are they going to do about that? Are we supposed to register our Facebook and Twitter accounts too? Seems to me that instead of fixing the stuff citizens complain about on forums and blogs, someone took it into their head to fix the citizens instead. That’s a twentieth century tactic that just won’t get anyone anywhere anymore.
Update 25 September
In case you missed it in the news, AFP contacted the ministry the very next day and the ministry denied that it will there will be any form of registration required from bloggers and forum owners. They claim that the spokesperson Al Haza’a was misunderstood.