Data and information plays a significant role in the manner that any country is run. When citizens of a country have enough information, they are able to make informed decisions as opposed to working with information that is imposed towards them by the government. In Saudi Arabia, the government censors lots of information that could trickle down to the majority of the citizens. The authority that is responsible for the censoring of the information is the Saudi communications commission. The information that is censored is regulated by the decisions made by the council of ministers. One of the main reason that the government of Saudi Arabia censors information is to ensure that there are no individuals disseminating information that is anti government.
The main areas that the government of Saudi Arabia censors include; the internet, speeches made by people, the information that the press disseminates to the people, and other media platforms such as film and television. The internet is censored by the Saudi communications commission. Most of the internet websites and blog spots are censored. My blog was censored and there was no explanation given for the censorship. My blog was not political and did not contain any pornographic content. I felt that my right as the freedom of speech was infringed by the government.
The speeches made by people in Saudi Arabia are also censored. Most of the time, the communications and information technology commission censor speeches because they deem the information to be of political and that the speeches given may cause political unrest. In the last five years, more than two hundred individual were arrested by the authorities in Saudi Arabia for the speeches that they made. These people were deemed as political activists who were making these speeches in order to cause political unrest especially during the Arab uprising that started in Tunisia. Patterson (98) argues that when the government censors information, there are many implications that arise from the lack of information. Citizens of the country are blocked from accessing information that is available to other people from other countries.
For many writers in Saudi Arabia, they find it difficult in terms of dissemination of information. Most of the information that is disseminated especially in terms of books, newspapers is closely monitored by the Saudi authorities to ensure that the information in these books and newspapers are not political in nature and do not contain pornographic content. Another method that the government uses involves blocking the access of information disseminated by the media is through intimidation, fear and laws.
According to Goldstein (100), the films and television shows of the country are intimidated into broadcasting certain films and television shows they risk losing the licenses that have been awarded to them by the government. Most of the films and television shows are Muslim related and are pro government shows. Freedom of speech is not highly regarded by that authority in Saudi Arabia. Apart from intimidation, the government of Saudi Arabia has also enacted laws that are harsh, and if one is judged to have violated the rules of law, the individual is given a long jail sentence.
The government of Saudi Arabia uses these methods to censor information. The areas that are prone to censorship in Saudi Arabia include the internet, films and television shows and the speeches in addition to the information disseminated from different media platforms. The situation in Saudi Arabia is a very dire one. Many people are not in a position to distinguish between what the government has censored and what they consider not acceptable. This thus plays in the government’s favor, and the government can be able to achieve its objectives such as the reduction on the dependence of oil. The communication and information technology commission works together with the government to ensure that any political opposition is suppressed and because of this, any other website that is information based, the government wants it banned.
Patterson, Annabel M. Censorship and Interpretation: The Conditions of Writing and Reading in Early Modern England. Madison, Wisc: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984. Print.
Goldstein, Eric. The Internet in the Mideast and North Africa: Free Expression and Censorship. New York, NY: Human Rights Watch, 1999. Print.