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Saudi Arabia

Blog   |   Saudi Arabia

Saudi censorship blurs lines between journalism, activism

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has decreed several laws that censor the press. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

Since the surprise Arab uprisings of 2011, the Saudi government has worked assiduously to ensure it has all the tools of censorship it needs to control dissent. These tools--a combination of special courts, laws, and regulatory authorities--are starting to fire on all cylinders. The result has been a string of arrests and prosecutions in recent months of independent and dissident voices.

Blog   |   Belarus, Burma, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Internet, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Uzbekistan

Most censored nations each distort the Net in own way

Iran has invested in technology with the explicit intent of restricting
Internet access. (Reuters/Caren Firouz)

One big reason for the Internet's success is its role as a universal standard, interoperable across the world. The data packets that leave your computer in Botswana are the same as those which arrive in Barbados. The same is increasingly true of modern mobile networks. Standards are converging: You can use your phone, access an app, or send a text, wherever you are.

May 2, 2012 4:00 PM ET

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Blog   |   Egypt, Internet, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, USA

Internet Blotter

  • Egyptian blogger Karim Amer is finally free after four years in prison.
  • Iran launches yet another police force to deal with the Internet, headquartered with the Revolutionary Guard. Its commander says the state plans to quadruple its Internet control budget.
  • Google lobbies U.S. policymakers to consider online censorship a free trade issue.
  • Is breaking into Yahoo e-mail too easy? The Sarah Palin hack revealed flaws in the webmail system's security that can still be exploited.
  • Yet more malicious attacks on computers connected to the Nobel Peace Prize. As with CPJ and other groups, the Nobel Institute's director, Geir Lundestad, received a personalized, but fake e-mail containing malware.
  • Saudi Arabia blocks Facebook over "moral concerns"--then immediately unblocks it, claiming an "error."
November 16, 2010 5:07 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, India, Internet, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, UAE

Use your Blackberry to map global surveillance

The University of Toronto's Citizen Lab has announced a research project to analyze the global infrastructure of Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry. It's looking for BlackBerry users from any country to take part--especially those in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, India, Indonesia, Russia and China.

All of these countries have at some point demanded that RIM make their BlackBerry network more surveillance-friendly. Some have threatened to ban BlackBerry services outright if their demands are not met. Other reports suggest that RIM has made concessions to some of these countries' demands.

One possible concession RIM might make is to move its Blackberry Internet Service (BIS) servers to locations within those countries' jurisdictions. BIS servers are the bridges between the internal BlackBerry network and the wider Internet. A locally-hosted BIS server would make it easier for domestic security services to monitor BlackBerry users' general Web traffic.

RIM has kept quiet about what agreements, if any, it has made with any government. Nevertheless, it is theoretically possible to work out the location of these BIS servers externally. If you're a journalist who uses a BlackBerry, all you have to do to help with this project is to visit the RimCheck website using your BlackBerry device and fill out a short form. The site will record the IP address of the machine your request comes from, and will attempt to determine where in the world that server could be located.

The conclusions that the RIM Check project draws from this study will be published when the group has collected enough data. Concrete statistics like this will mean we'll finally be able to see if BlackBerry's send their data exclusively through Canadian servers as some believe or whether RIM has distributed these servers globally--potentially allowing users' unencrypted Net traffic to be as monitorable as that sent through a local Internet service provider.
October 21, 2010 5:27 PM ET

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Blog   |   Canada, India, India, Internet, Saudi Arabia, UAE, USA

What should journalists know about BlackBerry fights?

A Blackberry logo is prominently displayed in Ahmadabad, India. (AP)

The discussions between Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry, and governments such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and India continue to hit the headlines. In each case, disagreements center on providing customer communications to security and law enforcement services. The rumblings from these nations over monitoring powers aren't just limited to RIM: India has announced its intention to put the same pressure on Google (for Gmail), and Skype (for its IM and telephony services).

September 1, 2010 5:33 PM ET

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Blog   |   Saudi Arabia, UK, USA

U.S. Senate passes 'libel tourism' bill

This week, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill shielding journalists and publishers from “libel tourism.” The vote on Monday slipped past the Washington press corps largely unnoticed. Maybe it was the title that strove chunkily for a memorable acronym: the Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage (SPEECH) Act. Journalists and press freedom defenders outside the United States did, however, pay attention to the legislation, which they hope will spur libel law reform in their countries.

July 23, 2010 5:56 PM ET

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Blog   |   Saudi Arabia, UK, USA

Free Speech Protection Act could slow 'libel tourism'

Free press advocates in Britain are looking to a bill stuck in the U.S. Congress for moral support in the fight to reform England’s draconian defamation laws. The U.S. bill, the Free Speech Protection Act 2009, is itself the product of those laws, which have made London the capital of “libel tourism.” 
November 16, 2009 10:57 AM ET

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Blog   |   Saudi Arabia

Saudi prince threatens sports commentators

Saudi Prince Sultan bin Fahd bin Abdulaziz made an unexpected phone call last week to a live talk show on a Saudi sports channel. The prince made the angry call to Al-Riyadiyya from Mascat, Oman, on January 17 after he'd watched Oman's national soccer team defeat Saudi Arabia in the Gulf Cup. He picked up the phone to interrupt sports commentators who were criticizing both the team and the management of the Saudi Soccer Federation.

January 27, 2009 3:14 PM ET

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Blog   |   Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia

Defending al-Zaidi, but not journalists at home

The now infamous incident of Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi throwing his shoes at President George Bush became primetime news throughout the world. In the Middle East it has been shown on television almost endlessly. 

December 18, 2008 5:26 PM ET

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