Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Filtering Saudi Arabia: God & Porn

God and porn, the essential ingredients for any good filtering cocktail. The Saudi government knows well, and serves them cold. A new study by The Open Net Initiative on internet filtering in Saudi Arabia
"indicates [that] the Saudi government is extremely dedicated to filtering pornographic Web pages - in fact, the ISU [Internet Services Unit] is often faster to block porn than the SmartFilter software updates are. [...] Overall, Saudi Arabia successfully blocks most pornographic Web content, and its rapid detection of new porn demonstrates the Kingdom's commitment to filtering this material."
While the crackdown on pornography and other sexual content is a nice benchmark for any dictatorial regime, the filtering of religious sites seems more troubling. The study lines out that the filtered sites seek to provide information about and a dialogue with other faiths than the Islam. From the report:
Saudi Arabia also concentrates on blocking sites that attempt to convert its citizens or to introduce them to other faiths, as demonstrated by significant local blocking by the ISU. We found 148 such sites locally blocked. This filtering echoes the Kingdom's earliest concerns about the Internet as a tool to proselytize Saudi citizens. The largest locally blocked group of these sites (22%) concerned relationships between Christians and Muslims. Blocked sites in this area are frequently available in Arabic, and also include sites ostensibly encouraging dialogue between the Christian and Islamic religion.
This underlines that the Saudi government is actively pursuing religious apartheid on the internet. Not much of a revelation, because it is a transposition of existing offline policy. But for a country that has some serious problems with religious terrorism, to squelch the dialogue between different faiths, is waiting for a pressure drop from above.

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PDF version of Internet Filtering in Saudi Arabia 2004

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you hear these huge servers of the Saudi intelligence humming, searching, filtering, selecting, sticking little flags on no-no words? Ring ring! O ! Yes ! A hit! What's that, Saudian apartheid, dictatorial regime, terrorism! Let's follow the lead of this dangerous miserable little infidel giaour. Here it is, Rik Lambers. What does he want, a pressure drop from above?

25/11/04 22:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rik Lambers is gek.

25/11/04 23:13  

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