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Bahrain Imposes Web Site Registration Requirement; Bloggers Worried

Bahrain's Ministry of Information is requiring all Bahraini Web sites – hosted inside or outside the country – to register with the Ministry. Webmasters will be legally responsible for content on their sites, and face prosecution under the country's Press and Publications law for failing to register. The OpenNet Initiative notes in its study on Internet filtering in Bahrain that the country already blocks access by citizens to some Web sites and also employs legal and informal pressures to control content on the Web.

Bahraini bloggers are nervous, especially in the wake of the arrests of the editors of the bahrainonline Web site.

Silly Bahraini Girl writes:

Our days are numbered…. In the new era of freedom and democracy, ushered in by a new constitution and reforms never known to the world before and will never be seen ever again anywhere else for as long as we and our children and our grandchildren and our great grandchildren after them live, the Ministry of Information has come out with a new means to supress FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION.

Mahmood Al-Yousif blames Bahrain's “impotent” Parliament:

The ministry being an extremely important appendage of Bahrain, Inc. can't have come to this conclusion by themselves, they (the whole government) must be still smarting from the bahrainonline.org debacle, when sane people would think twice on generating adverse publicity once again by trying to control what is printed, this time they seem to have gone a step further and want to penalise us for our thoughts as well.

He suggests three steps: boycott registration, organize an on-line petition, and hold a meeting of Webmasters for further planning. Chan'ad Bahraini writes that this undercuts his argument that King Hamad has increased freedom of speech and suggests shutting down the Ministry itself.

Babbling Bahrainia views the move as part of the contraction wave of the cycle of freedom, noting the government also proposes new anti-terrorism laws restricting speech and a ban on disclosing the name of a defendant before a case comes to a verdict:

I also further argue that this decade, although sharing the cyclical charecteristics of previous times, is facing a unique predicament in that what is essentially happening right now, is that autocracy is being ENSHRINED in law before our very eyes; through the constitution, royal decrees, press laws, law 56 etc, that have outwardly stated that one man rules this country. This is a precedent.

A worrisome development (unless you're the Bahrain Tribune, which views it as a way “to ensure better investment environment, enhance social development and protect human rights and Press freedom”). Discussion underway at Mahmood's Den, with the suggestion of increasing the number of blogs to overwhelm the regulators.

6 comments

  • […] a’s withdrawal. “Forgive me God, for I have blogged!” Facing the latest Bahraini government crackdown, Silly Bahraini Girl can’t control herself an […]

  • Just between you and me and the grand piano:

    I’m considering an intervention to mediate in order to achieve a reconciliation.

  • interesting site. never knew it existed before

    doesn’t your government impose any restrictions on what you write online ?

    aren’t you from the same planet we are from?

  • Hi Sillybahrainigirl –

    We’re big fans of yours here, and are very interested in the blog community in Bahrain.

    Same planet, yes, though people involved with Global Voices are from all around the globe. Some of our correspondents have experienced restrictions on what they write online. Others of us have been more fortunate. The site is hosted in the US and we haven’t experienced any US government restrictions on what we write.

    -Ethan

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  • I am not worrying at all. I need to look into the step taken by them and I am sure I can come up with a solution for it.

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