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Saudi Arabia to block 200,000 new Internet sites

Agence France-Presse

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (April 30, 2001 4:35 p.m. EDT) - A newspaper reported Saturday that authorities in the conservative state of Saudi Arabia are planning to block 200,000 new Internet sites within the next two months, mostly for moral reasons.

This would bring the total number of sites blocked in this oil-rich kingdom to more than 400,000, Al-Eqtisadiah business daily said, quoting informed sources.

The Internet service introduced to Saudi Arabia less than two years ago is closely monitored by King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology, which filters and blocks undesired sites.

Authorities in the city have said that over 95 percent of the blocked sites deal with pornography and the rest comprise political and social subjects that violate the country's laws.

The city has regularly been blocking some 20,000 new sites on a monthly basis, but decided to accelerate the pace of the blocking after adopting a tougher policy, the paper said.

Currently, there are fewer than 200,000 Internet subscribers in Saudi Arabia with close to 600,000 users. That makes the country the second largest in the Middle East in term of users after the United Arab Emirates.

There are about two dozen private Internet service providers in the kingdom, where experts are predicting the number of users to double before the end of 2001.,2107,500477846-500734603-504217367-0,00.html

-- Martin Thompson (, April 30, 2001

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