The government of Saudi Arabia looks dead serious in its bid to crack down social networking website as recent reports suggested that they are mulling ending anonymity of for Twitter users in the country.
The Arab News Daily reported that the government is looking to limit the access to the popular social networking site only to users who will register with supporting documents.
Twitter is very popular in Saudi Arabia, but the government has been looking to crack down the use of the site and other social networking websites because it is being used a medium for public debate on topics that are harmful and offensive to the Saudi Arabian government.
Restricting Twitter to users with identification documents will not only make the identity of a certain user visible to other Twitter users but it will also be used by the government to monitor online statements of individual Saudi Arabians. The report did not detail possible sanctions for those who will post offensive statements.
Earlier this month, security spokesman Major General Mansour Turki expressed concern about the improper use of social networking websites. In an interview with Reuters, Turki said that supporters of terrorist groups Al Qaeda and activist groups in Saudi Arabia are using Twitter to gain sympathy by publicizing their goals.
Turki said: “There are people who misuse the social networking and try to send false information and false evaluation of the situation in the kingdom and the way the policemen in the kingdom are dealing with these situations.”
Aside from Twitter, the Saudi Arabian government issued warning to internet messaging applications such as Skype and Viber. In a statement, the government said that they will make suitable measures if these applications will not comply with the rules of the country.
“Some telecom applications over the Internet protocol currently do not meet the regulatory conditions. The commission will take suitable measures regarding these applications and services if those conditions are not met,” the Kingdom’s Communications and Information Technology Commission announced.
In 2010, the government shut down the use of BlackBerry phones to send and receive messages because BlackBerry conversations are encrypted, preventing the government to monitor communications as part of their battle against terrorism and widespread crime in the country.