The Other Great Firewall

Everyone’s heard of The Great Firewall of China and it’s international eyebrow-raising responses from the internet community. China’s Firewall has come into the spotlight with criticism from all around the world. But China isn’t the only one, and it isn’t even necessarily the biggest — it’s just the one people talk about most. There is one Firewall in particular that is close to and may even surpass the Great Firewall of China when it comes to complete and utter control of information. Which country? Saudi Arabia of course.

Everyone agrees the internet is full of both the good and the bad, and that you can’t necessarily have one without the other. The only real question is, whose to decide what’s right and what’s not? Who can say whether a country is right or wrong to decide what’s good for its people; what they can or cannot access, and where they get their information from. Generally speaking, every man or woman should decide for themselves; but some countries have made the decisions for their citizens and that’s the world we live in.

Saudi Arabia is such a country. It’s approach may be vastly different from that of China, it may not be making the headlines by requesting that websites tailor their content to suit the Kingdom’s likings, but nevertheless, Saudi Arabia’s firewall is just as powerful and as just as controlling, and all the more dangerous in its subtle and invisible way.

An anonymous NST reader in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia provided us with the data needed for this report — without it, this story would have been impossible. It runs a lot deeper than we’ll ever be able to research, but what we have certainly was a shocker. First some background though.

Saudi Arabian telecommunications is locked off to a single internet provider: the Saudi Telecom Company (STC), a government-subsidized corporation in charge of all telephone, cellular, internet, and other data exchange mediums that take place in Saudi Arabia. This single-company perfect monopoly is government protected, and emerged as a result of privatization in the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Telex, Mail, and Telephone in 1998. Since then it has been involved in a campaign of complete information control on all in- and out-bound traffic in the Kingdom.

12 thoughts on “The Other Great Firewall

  1. The same thing happens EXACTLY in Iran. some regims just can’t understand freedom. And I hope all of them fade away soon.

  2. People are free to leave the country.
    I personally ENCOURAGE censhorship when it comes to pornographic material (which is what is mostly censored in the middle east)

  3. In Egypt, The system is totally opposite.Pornography is totally uncensored ,while political sites are censored(including bulletins that talk about politics in the way that the gov. doesn’t like).

  4. There isn’t much you can do… When the country you live and die in is blocking access to the sites and close proxies and loopholes even as they are found/created, there’s pretty much absoloutely nothing you can do about it.

  5. Oh! It’s weird alright in Saudi. I remember I would surf the US Cosmopolitan site regularly, and within 2-3 weeks half the articles in it were blocked. I still had access to the site but all other content was blocked. Weird… They not only block sites but even pages. So a lifestyle magazine will have all pages with “inappropriate content” blocked. One thing I’ve noticed is that the more you block content, the more weird people become. Saudi men are actually quite the playboys and the addiction to pornography is extreme here. It’s weird. And sometimes if you have a CD with you at the airport, they check it! They actually play the CD and fine you if the content is “inappropriate”… Even the online Saudi community groups which haven’t been blocked or now are, are filled with pornographic groups which just shows their obsession with it. lol… I reckon one needs freedom to avoid becoming a pervert. Maybe extreme content can be blocked, but they’ve even blocked science sites related to human reproduction and sex organs… =S

  6. ” If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. ”

    ” Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. ”
    George Orwell

  7. Fascinating story. Never heard of this previously. Makes sense though, a country so far behind in many areas, such as woman’s rights. Why not just add sensorship to their bag.

  8. I approve the firewall ,to an extent.
    Blocking a whole a domain based on a page is just sick,it’s like blaming a whole country based on one citizen action.(America did that too ,btw)
    Torrents sites are now blocked,it’s not about porn it’s about making people hear only what they are meant to hear.
    If there is one thing I know ,that would be “knowledge is power” and taking that right from us is crossing the red line.
    But who cares ,we’re like cattle (ARABS as a whole),we’re on the bottom of the prymiad not wanting to fight the top and reach it.
    This is enslavement people ,mass enslavement.
    That was a good read, written 5 years ago by someone not arabic.:)

    Questions for NS:
    1.How did you obtain this information “All requests are invisibly handled by a proxy server on the ISP?s side?
    2.If all DSL and dial-up connections are based on one ISP,how about satellite-broadband and ISP wireless connections?

    Please reply ASAP,thanks!!!

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