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Saudi Arabia Requiring License For Online Media 175

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the license-and-registration-please dept.
Beetle B. writes "According to Saudi Arabia's leading English newspaper, Arab News, online newspapers, blogs and forums will now need to register with the Ministry of Information and Culture for licenses to operate, according to new regulations that the ministry announced Saturday it is to introduce. Abdul Aziz Khoja, minister of information and culture, said that the system is 'in line with the development moves that the media sector is witnessing.' He added that the rules do not include any clauses restricting freedom of speech and that the ministry is eager to ensure there is transparency. He also said that the rules will be made open to improvement in the future."
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Saudi Arabia Requiring License For Online Media

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  • Fairness (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bonch (38532) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @02:23PM (#34756276)

    Saudi Arabia's neat little version of the Fairness Doctrine. I'm sure the government will stick to its word that there will be no restrictions on free speech. What could possibly go wrong in having governments regulate the internet? Other than governments being the most corrupt organizations on the planet, I mean.

    • by devxo (1963088)

      What could possibly go wrong in having governments regulate the internet? Other than governments being the most corrupt organizations on the planet, I mean.

      Yeah, we should stop them from regulating anything. What could possibly go wrong?

      • Re:Fairness (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jameskojiro (705701) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @02:32PM (#34756368) Journal

        No, we should limit their control over us at every turn in which they attempt to usurp more power for themselves.

        No Goverment = Anarachy = Bad

        Total Government = Totalitarinism = Bad

        Limited Government = A lot better than the above two choices.

        • Limited Government = A lot better than the above two choices.

          Sorry, I don't have mod points, and probably won't have any in the near future, so here: +1. :-)

        • Re:Fairness (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Richard Steiner (1585) <rsteiner@visi.com> on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @02:51PM (#34756600) Homepage Journal

          Sure, but for what value of $Limited...?

          It isn't the idea of limiting government that's usually the issue, but the degree to which the limitation should occur.

          • by vegiVamp (518171)

            Any power that any government proposes to assume because it "feels it needs them", "to combat mostly-unspecified public threats" et al should be cause for shooting the requesting politicians in the knee within half an hour of failing to produce founded and quantified justification.

            Any power that any government doesn't really want because it's "too complex to administrate" or "a drain on the budget that brings no tangible benefits" but the population will see actual benefit of in the near and/or remote futur

          • Well the standard libertarian argument is that the government should be limited to protecting citizen's rights. This means protecting them from physical force by others, which can take many forms, including theft, fraud etc. Many legitimate powers of the government then follow: legislature, courts, police, military and various supporting functions such as collecting taxes or finding some other means to fund them. To quote Ayn Rand: "A government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force

          • Err, £imited?

        • Wait, someone -not- talking in extremes? ... (brain explodes)

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        >>>Yeah, we should stop them from regulating anything

        Strawman argument. He did not say the government should not regulate all things - only that speech should not be regulated. Nor did he say the world is black-and-white, and that one must always assume the extremist viewpoint without nuance..... as you have done.

      • The government only needs to regulate what needs regulation. Now, what needs regulation? Basically, the government's job is to protect the weak from the powerful. When a policeman protects you from being mugged by someone with a knife, that's one example. Protecting the people from the greed of corporations is another. Even protecting the (les tech-savvy) people from internet fraud might be a point where the government should step in.

        I refuse to accept that the government is so weak that it needs to be prot

    • Re:Fairness (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @02:29PM (#34756326)

      The FCC, the same organization that freaked out over Janet Jackson's nipple, wants to regulate the internet.

      Your sig shows that you aren't qualified to comment on discussions like this. Fundamental failure to understand issues purely to take an anti-government stance draws into question your willingness to actually discuss issues.

      Not to say that Saudi Arabia won't abuse this, they will, but suggesting that the US is trying to "regulate" the internet just shows a complete (and willing) failure to understand the topic.

      • Re:Fairness (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @02:34PM (#34756386)

        but suggesting that the US is trying to "regulate" the internet just shows a complete (and willing) failure to understand the topic.

        Perhaps your definition of regulate is different from mine, but hasn't the FCC introduced "net neutrality" regulations? What, if not the Internet, do those regulations apply to?

        • Re:Fairness (Score:5, Informative)

          by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @02:40PM (#34756462)

          The carriers, obviously, and how they handle your data. They haven't gone and dictated what content can appear on the internet, or any such nonsense like the GP was trying to imply by citing the "Fairness Doctrine".

          • So, regulating the people who provide you with access to the Internet and how they provide you with access to the Internet is not regulating the internet? If that is not regulating the Internet, what exactly would constitute regulating the Internet?
            • by h4rr4r (612664)

              No, these are regulations for ISPs, not the internet itself. Regulating the internet would be something like forbidding all mention of former presidents employment by foriegn dignitaries.

              • How is regulating access to the internet realistically different than regulating the internet? Which is why everyone was up in arms over net neutrality.

              • I have a question. How does regulating the company that provides you with access to the Internet differ from regulating the Internet?
                If the FCC were to require ISPs to throttle certain types of traffic (say bittorrent), would that not be regulating the Internet? That would be "regulations for the ISPs.
    • Re:Fairness (Score:5, Insightful)

      by makubesu (1910402) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @02:36PM (#34756424)
      Governments are the most corrupt organizations on the planet? Yes because everyone knows that big corporations are actually run by angels and bunnies, who would never do anything wrong...
      • Corporations do not claim that they aren't in the game exclusively for profit. They don't lie about what their priorities are, it says right in their charters that their number one duty to stockholders is to earn revenue and increase profit and value. People running governments, despite having many of those same inclinations, never admit to that and act like it works some way other than how it actually works. This is why Senators seeking re-election always talk about how bad it is in Washington and how i

      • You might want to learn some history there. Corporations are a legal fiction created and backed by government. Every time you look at a truly evil thing that was done and made possible by the scale and legal immunity that individuals in corporations often enjoy, you can thank a government for that.

        • Stop making sense. If people want to think that corporations get their charters and legal privileges out of a fucking Cracker Jack box, then who are you to spoil their fantasy?
      • by BeanThere (28381)

        Governments are the most corrupt organizations on the planet? Yes because everyone knows that big corporations are actually run by angels and bunnies, who would never do anything wrong...

        Hmm, let's see, governments have been responsible for the Jewish holocaust, Apartheid, both World Wars, the Chinese 'Cultural Revolution', the Rape of Nanking, the Rwandan genocide, the Khmer Rouge genocides, the massacre of millions in the Soviet Union. Tens if not hundreds of millions of people dead, countless more lives ruined and harmed, and I haven't even scratched the surface.

        What's your list for corporations? Microsoft 'cut off Netscape's air supply'? Enron cooked the books? Cigarette companies had a

      • Governments are the most corrupt organizations on the planet? Yes because everyone knows that big corporations are actually run by angels and bunnies, who would never do anything wrong...

        Here's a useful item to scale things with:

        Apple just passed a Market cap of $300 billion, joining Exxon/Mobil as the one of the only two corporations that large.

        The US budget for 2010 was $3550 billion.

      • by Atzanteol (99067)

        Yay! I can play false dichotomy too!

        Corporations are corrupt you say? That must mean you think *the mob* is a bunch of angels and bunnies!

    • I'm sure the government will stick to its word that there will be no restrictions on free speech

      I'm interested in how they're going to handle this. Maybe in order to obtain a license, you must agree that your forum/blog will only contain content deemed appropriate, thus the government is not technically restricting anyone's free speech, they're only forcing others to do so. It seems that if they had no intentions of censoring, they would have no reason to start this licensing process to begin with, but then I haven't yet RTFA so perhaps it is explained there.

      • by Mia'cova (691309)

        Well, only the 2nd paragraph in seems block a good number of people from even applying.

        "The regulations also specify punishments in case of violations. These include the obligatory publishing of corrections, fines and bans for various time periods, including total bans. Applicants for licenses need to be Saudi, no less than 20 years of age, have high school certificates in the least and documents testifying to their good behavior. Online newspapers also need to employ editors in chief who have been approved

    • Net neutrality is not about regulating the Internet. It's about regulating Internet connections. Your sig is wrong. Your..."understanding" of net neutrality is wrong.

      That "net neutrality = fairness doctrine" crap is a tinfoil-hat conspiracy theory straight out of Glenn Beck's ass (that's literally where it came from...by "ass" here I mean "the bodily orifice that the most vile waste is excreted from"). By bringing it up, you've obliterated your own credibility on this topic.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      What could possibly go wrong in having governments regulate the internet?

      Well, considering that the US government created the internet with taxpayer money using technologies developed at publicly funded institutions, it only seems fair that they should be able to regulate it.

      If you look at the history of the internet, I think it can be argued that things really started to go wrong when corporations started staking out claims on it. To the extent that these big corporations will exert increasing control o

      • by TheSync (5291)

        Well, considering that the US government created the internet with taxpayer money using technologies developed at publicly funded institutions, it only seems fair that they should be able to regulate it.

        It is true that the US government funded a few early notable networks as well as early research on internetworking protocols.

        However angels, venture capital, and shareholders funded the actual NETWORKS that your packets are flowing on today.

        Plus there are plenty of RFCs written by employees of private compan

    • Hardly Surprising (Score:5, Informative)

      by UdoKeir (239957) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @03:38PM (#34757152)
      The content in Saudi Arabia's domestic mass media is under the control of the government, having to pass through censors before it makes it on air or in print. Furthermore, while the press is said to be privately owned, the editor-in-chief of each newspaper is appointed by the government.

      From: http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/fall09/jawad_n/traditionalmedia.html [ufl.edu]

      Traditional media is already under government control. Thousands of people producing online media are less easy to control, so they're only handing out licenses to those individuals they approve of.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @02:29PM (#34756328)

    They just revoke your license when you say something they don't like.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @02:31PM (#34756352)

    Because terrorists might run them, and we have to make sure there is accountability. We can't have an anarchy on the internet, it's too important!

    And we won't use it to restrict political views or leaks of embarrassing information.

    At first.

    • by 5KVGhost (208137)

      Maybe. But I suspect you're focusing on one threat while ignoring other dangers.

      The consumer-level restrictions are more likely to be justified by the left. Watch for expansions of libel, "hate speech" and "cyber-bullying" restrictions (Hi, Canada!), and "fairness" laws. Because hate, unfairness, bullies, and lies are all bad, you know, and must be banned in order to have a free society.

      At the next tier up, it's be the FTC and the FCC divvying up authority over everything from packet shaping decisions on ma

    • by couchslug (175151)

      "Because terrorists might run them,"

      Because the wrong bunch might run them. KSA is a corrupt monarchy clinging to power only because the House of Saud is so vast.

  • As long as you don't say anything bad about the government, mmmmmkay?
  • You merely need to register with the Ministry of Free Speech. Due to a backlog of requests in Saudi Arabia, your license to speak freely might take twenty years to process.

  • This just in from the Ministry of Truth^H^H^H^H^HInformation and Culture: "We have always been at war with Eastasia."
  • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @02:38PM (#34756436) Homepage Journal
    When I was growing up my buddy's dad told us a story. He talked about how he and his dad used to go out into the woods and cut firewood, fish, and hunt without a license. They just took these rights for granted. Hell, he even told us about how he shot a buck in some guy's front yard when he was a teenager. That was life back then in the sticks. Anyways, when he was younger, his dad made the comment to him that, when he got older, one would need a license to fish, hunt, and cut firewood. He also predicted that, eventually, you would only be allowed to do these things in certain, designated parts of the wilderness, rather than anywhere the road ended in bush.

    Anyways, those predictions have come true, at least here in the California. That always stuck with me and got me thinking. I have ten bucks that says, when I am my roomate's dad's age, you'll need a license to upload most, if not all, content that you want to the internet. You might require a license to legally access the internet at all. You'll be required to get a license to allow you to consume alcohol, if it's not prohibited outright. And you'll need a license to run a wireless networking node, you know, so that you can't set up a shady mesh network that is not policed.

    So those are my predictions for the next 20 years. Every time I see a story like this from Saudi Arabia, China, or, hell, even places like Australia with their internet censorship boogeyman that their government keeps bringing up, I just figure that the U.S. will wait a year or two before enacting those same policies here. I'm so sick of this bullshit about living in the land of the free but continually watching our freedoms get sold to the highest bidder. Maybe I'm just a pessimist, but mark my words, the internet will be licensed in the U.S. before long.

    Oh, one more, if 3D printing becomes cheap and accessible, you'll be required to get a manufacturing license to produce anything. That one will get enacted under the name of that God-foresaken commerce clause.
    • by Joehonkie (665142)

      Hell, he even told us about how he shot a buck in some guy's front yard when he was a teenager.

      And thanks to him this is why we have to have licenses.

      • by perpenso (1613749)

        Hell, he even told us about how he shot a buck in some guy's front yard when he was a teenager.

        And thanks to him this is why we have to have licenses.

        And mandatory hunter's safety classes which are a large portion common sense firearms safety, a larger portion informative firearms safety, a small portion ethics and a small portion actually hunting related.

      • > And thanks to him this is why we have to have licenses.

        Shooting a deer in someone's front yard is trespass and reckless endangerment. Licenses are irrelevant.

        • There was nobody around. The "front yard" was multiple acres large (the advantage of living in the middle of nowhere). There was no fence up. There were no "No Trespassing" signs up. So in reality, no, there was no reckless endangerment. At the time, the trespassing laws were loose enough that it didn't really qualify as trespassing either. He did end up getting a ticket, for discharging a firearm near a residence, or something like that. But that wasn't really a big deal.

          I understand the necessity for f
      • Hell, he even told us about how he shot a buck in some guy's front yard when he was a teenager.

        And thanks to him this is why we have to have licenses.

        Well, no...

        For the most part, hunting licenses are done for two reasons:

        1) Once upon a time, deer were rather more limited in number and range than they are now, so the government needed to limit the harvesting of same to prevent their extinction.

        2) It takes money to run fish & wildlife departments.

        So, working with the hunters (for the most part), th

      • by Atzanteol (99067)

        That license would have stopped him! Er...

    • Unfortunately I agree with the basic themes of your post, and it only remains in what precise detail it goes. We already have the alcohol license - it's called "Zero Tolerance" ID Carding.

      Problem is, looks to me like these stories are accelerating. Sometime soon I wanna' dig in and graph these stories because it's looking like some cross between Battleship, Monopoly, and Bingo.

      • Which the Zero Tolerance Alcohol Carding always surprised me...

        I can go into a grocery and buy fleishmann yeast, distilled water, cane sugar, grape juice, a big jug to put it all in in, and a balloon for a fermentation lock. And out comes wine. Really bad wine, but it is alcoholic.

        Or I can, legally, buy all proper beer supplies, starting from speciality yeasts, upper tier hops, malt (either in grain or syrup form), and all the equipment required for amateur beer making. And I can do this at any age... BUT H

    • by Angst Badger (8636) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @03:01PM (#34756710)

      Anyways, when he was younger, his dad made the comment to him that, when he got older, one would need a license to fish, hunt, and cut firewood. He also predicted that, eventually, you would only be allowed to do these things in certain, designated parts of the wilderness, rather than anywhere the road ended in bush.

      Some of this is just population growth. Fishing licenses have always struck me as silly, at least for non-commercial fishermen using poles instead of nets. But when it comes to hunting and felling trees, if everyone was allowed unlimited access, we'd run out of trees and deer pretty damn quick, just like we did with the buffalo. Licensing just prevents (or at least delays) the tragedy of the commons.

      If there were fewer of us, as their were in our grandparents' day, we could probably go back to having fewer restrictions. Of course, to get there, we'd need to start licensing reproduction.

      • by Thomasje (709120)

        If there were fewer of us, as their were in our grandparents' day, we could probably go back to having fewer restrictions. Of course, to get there, we'd need to start licensing reproduction.

        The jury is still out on that. In China they went with regulating reproduction, but in Europe and Japan fertility rates are falling on their own. My personal theory is that it is actually possible for entire nations to come to their senses and start behaving responsibly, and those non-enforced low fertility rates could be evidence of that, but of course it remains to be seen whether the current demographic trends will hold long enough to really make a difference.

        • The jury is still out on that. In China they went with regulating reproduction, but in Europe and Japan fertility rates are falling on their own.

          The impression I get is that fertility rates fall with prosperity, as they have done at least from Roman times to the present. If China succeeds in creating general prosperity for its citizens, I wouldn't be surprised if their reproduction regulations become obsolete. US reproductive rates have been declining for decades, too; much of our population growth comes from immigration. It would be interesting to see how closely the population growth rates of the US, Europe, and Japan correlate with their relative

          • by St.Creed (853824)

            The impression I get is that fertility rates fall with prosperity, as they have done at least from Roman times to the present. If China succeeds in creating general prosperity for its citizens, I wouldn't be surprised if their reproduction regulations become obsolete.

            In Shanghai and Beijing, they are already turning around and stimulating some couples to produce more kids. Apparently, they see the trend in the cities towards an ageing population. The huge income disparities between country and city will still hold for now, so out of the city I expect things to remain regulated for now. There is a huge difference between cities where adoptions are now becoming more and more common, and girls are little princesses, and the countryside where the un(der)educated still want

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by BitZtream (692029)

        Fishing licenses have always struck me as silly, at least for non-commercial fishermen using poles instead of nets.

        Non-commercial fishing licenses are more or less a tax, as are hunting licenses in places where limits aren't an issue.

        I'm happy to pay for a fishing license because that money is then used to stock the lakes I fish in and do research into keeping the areas I fish healthy for me to fish in down the road.

        Inland lakes are extremely overfished in the US these days. Florida has been destroyed by t

    • by Kirijini (214824)

      I have ten bucks that says, when I am my roomate's dad's age, you'll need a license to upload most, if not all, content that you want to the internet.

      Technically, if the content wasn't actually created by you (i.e., you are the author), and if the content is not public domain,* then you *do* need a license - from the owner of the copyright over that content - in order to upload it.

      But, I imagine that you're not railing against private ownership and control of resources. Just the conflict between government stewardship of resources and individual liberty.

      * I mean "public domain" in the expansive sense - e.g., ideas are public domain, fair uses of content

    • You're comparing two different things.

      Hunting/fishing/wood chopping requires a license because humans have proven themselves pretty adept at hunting/fishing/chopping things to extinction unless artificial controls are present. There's no equivalent problem with the creation and distribution of digital media.

      Your fear of excessive regulation is not unreasonable, but the analogy with the protection of physical resources is.

    • "Hell, he even told us about how he shot a buck in some guy's front yard"

      and that's what always bothered me about some people who complain about limits on their freedom. they really are complaining about their "right" to impose on the freedoms of others

      the rest of your post is spot on. but no service is done to the cause of freedom when you confuse freedom with your "right" to impose on others

      for example: the right to smoke in an office, or a bar, or on the street. what about my right to fresh air? so the r

      • "and that's what always bothered me about some people who complain about limits on their freedom. they really are complaining about their "right" to impose on the freedoms of others"

        INAL and I may be wrong, but my college logic professor would have told me that it is a liberty, not a freedom.

        Freedoms are those acts that we do within the law (ie, friend or ties that bind). Liberties are those that we do outside of the law (not specifically illegal, it is simply outside of what is dictated by law, extra-legal

    • There is a big difference between licenses for hunting or fishing and using the internet. The first is a regulation to preserve our natural resources, which have been plundered greatly since this country was mostly unknown wilderness. Streams have been over fished, woods over cut, and game over hunted. Think of the buffalo and whales to know what will happen if it goes unchecked. Licensing and registering hunters and fishermen helps enforce limits on harvest to make sure that these resources will be aro

    • At least you don't need a license to grow food in your backyard [govtrack.us]...
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @02:38PM (#34756440) Journal
    We are so eager to, um, impose absolutely no restrictions at all in a totally open and transparent manner that registration is now mandatory. If it weren't mandatory, we would be not imposing absolutely no restrictions at all, and you would actually be less free! Doesn't it all make perfect sense?
  • Not because of the environment, but so we stop funding Saudi Arabia. If it weren't for oil, Saudi Arabia would be a few poor camel herders in the desert, and their children would look on their ultraconservative religious views and go "I'm outta here," and ultraconservative Islam would die as a force in this world.

    But we are artificially maintaining Saudi Arabia's Wahabbi beliefs every time we fill up our fuel tanks, and Saudi Arabia exports ultraconservative Wahabbism to Pakistan, to absolutely wonderful results, sarcasm clearly intended.

    Value systems and cultural believe systems that work in this world create value for their societies and result in rich societies. And those values and beliefs are therefore furthered. Meanwhile, broken value systems and abusive cultural believe systems that don't work in this world result in impoverished suffering societies no one wants to be a part of, and so those societies change to seek out more prosperity. But if your society is sitting upon a giant vat of petroleum, and other societies pay you trillions for that, there's no reason to change, and so you keep these medieval belief systems, because you can afford to do that. We need to make sure Saudi Arabia can't afford to do that anymore.

    If Islamic extremism bothers you, then your next automobile purchase should be electric. There's very little you can do in this world as an individual to right horrible complicated wrongs. But here is one clear way you can.

    • by 0123456 (636235) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @02:55PM (#34756646)

      Not because of the environment, but so we stop funding Saudi Arabia.

      America imports twice as much oil from Canada as Saudi Arabia, and the Chinese will be more than happy to buy any Saudi oil that Americans don't.

      • the amount of money people pay to saudi arabia is a function of worldwide demand. and my call to buy electric cars does not apply to only american people

        less demand for product x=lower price for product x=less money for supplier of product x

        it's just simple economics

        do you want fight islamic extremism? buy an electric car. never mind all the other good reasons to do that

        • by Beetle B. (516615)

          it's just simple economics

          Yes, but your simple economics will also greatly hurt both the US and the Canadian economy.

      • America imports twice as much oil from Canada

        Those Canadians need to be stopped, too, before we're all eating circular bacon and enjoying curling.

      • America imports twice as much oil from Canada as Saudi Arabia, and the Chinese will be more than happy to buy any Saudi oil that Americans don't.

        Oil is a commodity, and it doesn't matter where you buy it from, the price is affected only by the quantity you buy. If the US would stop buying the Canadian oil, there would be some oversupply in the market, and the price would go down. Yes, the Chinese would be very grateful, but the Saudis would not.

        Please, do screw this into your heads once and for all: it does NOT matter one iota where a country buys it's oil from. For all intents and purposes, it's one and the same pool.

      • by Toze (1668155)
        We, and our godless/heathen ways, appreciate American funding of the spread of our beliefs. That global cooling thing you've been hearing about? That's us, exporting international coldism to rogue states.
    • Don't forget that the USA gets most of its oil from Canada. Being closer, they're even more dangerous. If you keep buying oil, it will be only a matter of time before they swarm south over the border armed with their all-destroying hockey sticks.

      • if the usa stopped buying oil from canada, the price of oil on the world stage would drop. price is a simple function of supply and demand. saudi arabia would get less money

        besides, my call to buy electric and not ICE cars is a call to the world, not just the american consumer. anyone who is bothered by islamic extremism can stop funding islamic extremism just by buying an electric car, nevermind all the other good reason why they should be doing that

        • anyone who is bothered by islamic extremism can stop funding islamic extremism just by buying an electric car

          Then whose extremism am I funding by buying the coal, gas, etc. that my electric power company uses? Or whose extremism am I funding by buying the raw materials for high-density batteries used in electric cars?

          • if you use thorium powered nuclear reactors, we have domestic reserves. and there's no fundamentalists on the sun

            lithium comes from bolivia. evo morales is friendly with hugo chavez, but also lula in brazil, so he's just playing the room, he's not crazy. he wants to help the indigenous populations, being that he is bolivia's first indigenous president

            • by tepples (727027)

              if you use thorium powered nuclear reactor

              But if we go "new killer", then the fundies can break in and get the shit to make bombs. Or at least that's what we've been told.

              there's no fundamentalists on the sun

              But are there fundies in the places where we get raw materials for PV panels? And are there fundies who own large tracts of land on which a huge PV or photothermal array would be installed? (There have to be; otherwise, we wouldn't call them tracts [chick.com] of land.)

    • What is stopping the Saudis (and other oil-rich nations) from simply making heavy investments in coal, for example, and becoming an "energy conglomerate" versus just an "oil magnate." That way, your electric purchases still benefit them.
      • ummm... what? there's no appreciable coal deposits in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia paying West Virginia for coal isn't exactly a problem. Because the net flow of cash is to West Virginia, not Saudi Arabia. Yes, there's a lot of money floating around in the world of finance, and Saudi Arabia can and does partake of that. But the essential problem is the creation of cash, oodles of it, just for sitting on top of a bathtub full of crude. Not some bond holder skimming off a little extra value for what goes on els

    • Electric battery-powered cars kind of suck right now. The better solutions (at least for awhile) are probably to either A) Synthesize gas/diesel from coal, using the Fischer-Tropsch process, or start buying Compressed Natural Gas cars, and fuel the cars with CNG (the U.S., at least, has a lot of both coal and natural gas).

      If you're worried about carbon emissions, there's also the idea of synthesizing gas/diesel fuel using electricity, water, and CO2. There's a company, which I haven't been able to determine

      • yes, Saudi Arabia would probably still be barbaric. but at least it would be poor, its level of prosperity equal to its medieval set of values and beliefs. rather than artificially inflated by oil reserves, which allows them to export Wahabbism to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Without oil in Saudi Arabia, there never would have been a 9/11 and Osama Bin Laden would be a goat herder.

    • by Beetle B. (516615)

      You're going off on a tangent. These regulations are in place not because KSA is a theocracy, but because it is a dictatorship.

  • "Ministry of Information and Culture" sounds very wimpy to me. They need a Ministry of Truth: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ministry_of_Truth [wikipedia.org] . That would get those meddling kids on the Internet back into line.

    "If it wasn't for those meddling Internet kids ... etc"

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      You have committed double-plus ungood crimethink. Please immediately report to the Ministry of Love for reeducation.
  • by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @02:42PM (#34756504)
    to a [CENSORED] near you!
  • You would think they would have come up with a more original lie, as it is, it's a boring lie. Typical of governments around the world.

    "He added that the rules do not include any clauses restricting freedom of speech and that the ministry is eager to ensure there is transparency."

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @02:49PM (#34756584) Journal

    "Rules do not include any clauses restricting freedom of speech"

    So why do I need to get a license before I can speak on my blog? That alone implies a restriction (no licence - no blog permitted).

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @02:51PM (#34756604)
    So how does this affect online media hosted _outside_ of Saudi Arabia? Isn't this move just going to drive all bloggers to offshore hosting?
    • Yeah I'm not sure what the hell they were thinking here O_o

      • by Alsee (515537)

        As I read the article, the law applies to the act of publishing itself. (Where "publishing" is pretty much a glorified term for "posting on the internet".) It seems obvious to me that anyone in Saudi Arabia using an offshore host, without registering for a license, would be a criminal in violation of this law.

        I wonder if the typical Saudi can hear the same grotesque irony I hear when the Minister of Information said the rules do not include any clauses restricting freedom of speech. If not, then maybe it wo

        • by Locke2005 (849178)
          As opposed to anybody in Saudi Arabia sending content to his cousin in Europe to post to an offshore host? The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.
  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @02:54PM (#34756626)
    ...or you might be the head of an article without any body.
  • What do you expect from a country where slavery was legal until the late 60s?

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