Saudi internet rules, 2001

Council of Ministers Resolution
12 February 2001

All Internet users in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shall refrain from publishing or accessing data containing some of the following:

  1. Anything contravening a fundamental principle or legislation, or infringing the sanctity of Islam and its benevolent Shari’ah, or breaching public decency.

  2. Anything contrary to the state or its system.

  3. Reports or news damaging to the Saudi Arabian armed forces, without the approval of the competent authorities.

  4. Publication of official state laws, agreements or statements before they are officially made public, unless approved by the competent authorities.

  5. Anything damaging to the dignity of heads of states or heads of credited diplomatic missions in the Kingdom, or harms relations with those countries.

  6. Any false information ascribed to state officials or those of private or public domestic institutions and bodies, liable to cause them or their offices harm, or damage their integrity.

  7. The propagation of subversive ideas or the disruption of public order or disputes among citizens.

  8. Anything liable to promote or incite crime, or advocate violence against others in any shape or form.

  9. Any slanderous or libellous material against individuals.

Furthermore, certain trade directives stipulate that all companies, organisations and individuals benefiting from the service shall observe the following:

  1. Not to carry out any activity through the internet, such as selling, advertising, or recruitment, except in accordance with the commercial licenses and registers in force.

  2. Not to carry out any financial investment activity or offer shares for subscription, except when in possession of the necessary licenses to do so.

  3. Not to promote or sell medicines or foodstuff carrying any medicinal claims, or cosmetics, except those registered and approved by the Ministry of Health.

  4. Not to advertise or promote or sell substances covered by other international agreements to which the Kingdom is a party, except for those with the necessary licenses.

  5. Not to advertise trade fairs or organise trade delegations visits or tourist tours or trade directories except with the necessary licences.

All private and government departments, and individuals, setting up websites or publishing files or pages, shall observe and ensure the following:

  1. Respect commercial and information convention.

  2. Approval of government authorities for setting up websites or publishing files or pages for or about themselves.

  3. Approval of the Ministry of Information for setting up of media-type websites which publish news on regular basis, such as newspapers, magazines and books.

  4. Good taste in the design of websites and pages.

  5. Effective protection of data on websites and pages.

  6. All government and private bodies, and individuals shall take full responsibility for their websites and pages, and the information contained therein.

The Resolution refers to a set of regulatory and technical procedures aimed at ensuring the safety of the constituents of the national network (the internet inside the Kingdom) through effective programming and mechanical means. These include the following:

  1. Service providers shall determine internet access eligibility through access accounts, user identification and effective passwords for the use of the access point or subsequent points and linking that through tracing and investigation programmes that record the time spent, addresses accessed or to which or through which access was attempted, and the size and type of files copied, whenever possible or necessary.

  2. The use of anti-virus programmes and protection against concealing addresses or printing passwords and files.

  3. Endeavour to avoid errors in applications that may provide loopholes that may be exploited for subversive activities or to obtain data not permitted for use for whatever reason.

  4. Restriction of the provision of internet services to the end-user through the internet service unit at King Abdulaziz city for sciences and technology.

  5. Keep a manual and electronic register with comprehensive information on end-users, their addresses, telephone numbers, purpose of use, and private internet access accounts, and provide the authorities with a copy thereof, if necessary.

  6. Not to publish any printed directories containing subscribers’ and end-users’ names and addresses, without their agreement.

Al-Watan newspaper 21/11/1421