Censorship in Saudi Arabia - Report By Committee To Protect Journalists
No. 3 on the List of 10 Most Censored Countries - The Saudi government has progressively intensified legal repression since the Arab Spring. Amendments to the press law in 2011 punished the publication of any materials deemed to contravene sharia, impinge on state interests, promote foreign interests, harm public order or national security, or enable criminal activity.
In 2014, the government issued a new anti-terrorism law and regulations that Human Rights Watch said will "criminalize virtually any expression or association critical of the government and its understanding of Islam." The law granted the Specialized Criminal Court, established in 2008, the ability to hear unchallenged testimony while the defendant or the defendant's lawyer is absent. The General Commission for Audiovisual Media announced in April 2014 that it will monitor online and YouTube content to ensure that Saudi contributors, among the largest audience for the online video-sharing site, adhere to government guidelines. YouTube is used by many Saudis to address controversial issues, such as women driving, and to document events not covered in the media, such as the stabbing of a Canadian in a Dhahran city mall in November 2014. Saudi Arabia also used its regional influence in the Gulf Cooperation Council to pass restrictions that prevent media in member states from criticizing the leadership of other member states.
Lowlight: A string of arrests and prosecutions of those expressing independent views took place in 2014. Many of those arrested were accused of press-related charges after covering protests. In October the government used a 2007 anti-cybercrime law to charge at least seven Saudis in connection with their use of Twitter to allegedly criticize the authorities and to call for women to be allowed to drive.