Rumors circling in 1998 stated that Saudi Arabia will use a "white list" approach to filtering out sites that are considered offensive. This implied that all sites were blocked until proven non-offensive, as opposed to the more usual approach of "black listing" specific sites. This rumor proved to be totally untrue, and only certain offensive sites are blocked. The entity, called the Internet Service Unit (ISU) appointed to watch for offensive sites is the King AbdulAziz City for Science and Technology (KACST). All users of the Internet service can complain if a site is blocked giving reasons on why it should be unblocked, using this Unblock Request Form. Similarly, users can submit information about any site they consider offensive and why it should be blocked, using this Proxy Report E-Mail Address. Each user uses the proxy of his ISP, which (most probably) feeds from the main proxy at the ISU. The concept of filtering the internet by a government may seem objectionable by some, but it has been successfully used by Singapore, United Arab Emirates, and soon Australia. Some articles criticizing the practice of filtering have been published, among these (not that I agree with everything in the reports, but I am including this for the sake of completness):
- Human Rights Watch Report on the Internet in the Middle East. This lists filtering as well as cost of access to the average citizen as being prohibitive to the internet growth in the Middle East. For a full discusion on cost of access, see the relevant page of this web site.
- Reporters Sans Fronti貥s report "The Twenty Enemies of the Web" on countries restricting access to the internet, including Saudi Arabia.