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Chan'ad Bahraini

(Scomberomorous maculatus Bahrainius)

Note: This page has moved to a new address. Please click on the following URL to get there: http://chanad.weblogs.us/index.php?s=Register or face legal action. Sorry for the trouble.

Register or face legal action

Monday, April 25, 2005

So this is what SillyBahrainiGirl warned us about. From the GDN:

Webmasters must register or face legal action

MANAMA: Webmasters face prosecution if they defy new rules announced by Bahraini authorities. All Bahraini websites set up here or abroad must register with the Information Ministry or face legal action, it was declared yesterday.

A six-month campaign is being launched next Monday to register all Bahraini websites, under orders from Information Minister and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Mohammed Abdul Ghaffar.

"The ministry will announce soon the details of how each website owner or supervisor can register," Information Under-Secretary Mahmood Al Mahmood told the GDN.

"If they fail to register then legal action will be taken against them based on the country's printing and publishing laws."

He said websites would face similar laws to newspapers, related to libel, public decency and ethics.

Just as a newspaper editor-in-chief is held responsible for what he publishes, so will the webmasters be, he said.

Ministry printing and publishing director Jamal Dawood said registration procedures would be in line with those for all types of publications, including newspapers, leaflets, audio and visual media.

So the government actually expects me to register this blog with them? Not a chance mate! It's odd... just a few days ago I wrote that the current environment of relatively free speech (in large part due to websites) was the only real change brought about by King Hamad's reforms... but now it seems the government is hellbent on undoing that also. Does the government seriously think it can control the flow of information in the current day and age? I think it's time for the Information Ministry to be shut down... no jokes this time please.

Bahrain bloggers, what do you make of this?


Update (25-Apr-05): Head over to Mahmood's Den to discuss what course of action we as bloggers want to take in response to this.

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11 Responses to 'Register or face legal action'

Blogger Desert Island Boy says:

Well, they've got six months to find us all out. Here's thinking they don't have a chance. Or do they?

This one story doesn't hold up on its own. It has a lot of legal holes. For one thing, what is a Bahraini website? Of course they'll come up with a ham handed definition that wouldn't make sense in the real world.

Two, how do they know exactly who can be held liable NOT registering?

Three, all of us clowns use foreign hosting services, blogger, blogspirit which we all post to. So does that mean that an American site has to register parts of it's domain to the MoI? Excuse me while I go beat the lawyers off my porch with a stick.

The whole point of this exercise is really to extend the laws of defamation to the internet. That's no laughing matter, but has yet to reach some sort of resolution globally.

Finally, what do business sites have to say about this? Ones currently operating on the island probably won't mind. They've been bending over for years.

But how are you going to sell this to a prospective investor? Oh, Come build your business here, tie up your money for months as you hop over miles of red tape. Now if you want to advertise as a business, run around after our paper shufflers for another month before you decide to take it all to Dubai and set up shop before lunchtime.    

Blogger sume says:

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.    

Blogger sume says:

Damn! I may just have to stay here. Let's wait and see what happens before we start doing monkey flips.

I'm wondering the same thing as DIB, what the heck defines a bahraini website. I don't think he and I would fit the bill unless they really stretch it. DIB they'd have to harrass you ISP before they could find out where to send those lawyers. Do these guys even use the internet?    

Blogger Angelo Embuldeniya (Strav) says:
4/25/2005 06:11:00 pm

If i may add my 2cents to this all:

yes the MoI does keep track of the exiting websites, what's more interesting is that someone close to them recently told me that they're on to blogs being set up inside and outside Bahrain that is related to the country in any way.

Now we could:

a) shut up, tone out and pack off
b) stay put, and keep doing what we've always been doing - blogging that is :-D and blogging about whatever we wannaq' blog about


c) we do whatever i mentioned in (b) plus encourage others to start blogging about bahrain, etc. (and i think bahrainblogs.com - would be a great focal point to serve this purpose) and pass the word along with a link back to the each one's blog that carries the post about this ridiculous decision + register more domains with bahrain in it, and/or place the meta keywords with atleast the word 'bahrain' in them so whenever someone searches for somethng related to bahrain it will point to the blog, the post and the entire stand off against this 'intelligent' regulation from the MoI.

i'm going for (c), whatever you personally choose is really your call. After coding up YamsGoohoo!glen
a bright idea has sprung into my mind, to start a project to direct all searches on 'website' 'bahrain' 'entertainment' freedom of speech' to direct to mahmood's site (yes, mahmood - expect to see loads of net traffic your way in the days to come) :-D    

Blogger Scorpio says:
4/25/2005 10:16:00 pm

This plan's unique in that it's totally flawed from every angle. For a start, given its size how's the Press and Publications Directorate going to process applications from the 6,000 Bahraini websites in six months?

Following on from DIB's point, just how's this going to affect Bahrain's business reputation? This plan comes the same day Sage Arabian Pulse publish a survey saying unsurprisingly government red tape's the number one deterrent discouraging international investment in the Arab world.

But look on the bright side: those who'd have got jobs with those businesses now scared away, potentially have the chance to work for the Direcorate given that it will need huge numbers of new employees to process the thousands of registration forms. So it all balances out job wise. I knew there'd be a silver lining somewhere.    

Blogger bahraincensor says:
4/26/2005 12:12:00 am

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.    

Blogger Angelo Embuldeniya (Strav) says:
4/26/2005 12:22:00 am

Glad to hear the plan is unique scorpio :-D = we all knew that it was flawed anyways but about the silver lining & the creation of jobs part - guess what:

if they're smart enough - they don't need to process registration forms - think about it.

we're talking about websites, ie - the internet. so they can either do this registration the traditional way - that is the whole paper joke or they could go papereless and fly straight into a digital society.

I mean it wouldn't make sense with all these plans for smart card and e-government,etc., etc. to do it the traditional way. What kind of message would that alone send out anyway? directly and indirectly they'd be stating that they're not comfortable with using web-based technologies to spur development within the MoI during a time when the King Hamad's Future Schools Project has already been spearheaded and has kicked-off (congrats to the Gov't for taking that e-Learning/e-Education project on - way to go!) as well as their shyness to use an online web-driven system to power their website registrations would raise some serious doubts and questions such as "is the ministry ready yet to tackle the challenges that are brought in as a result of e-education & e-government?", another good question would be "has the moi got enough 'professional' training to implement the whole host of e-development projects almost ready to commence in bahrain?"

And if they're going with a web-driven registration system, please ensure that it's not a traditionally web-driven one (traditional as in the interface is all static, one needs to have knowledge of html or any other web-based programming language used to code out the registration system) but dynamically-driven, more prefferably a CMS (Content Management System)where training is easy, business logic processes are automated and easily simplified and anyone dick, tom or harry can use the system!

I mean if you don't trust open source CMS's you can always go with the branded ones like Oracle (Currently being used at: BDF hospital) or SAP AG (Currently being used at: Batelco) and there are loads more.

One more thing, like DIB highlighted, the MoI can't hold foreign web hosting providers or ISPs liable if they've not registered their Bahraini clients' websites at the ministry. So thats a huge flaw in the current or proposed law if you will, it's a gaping hole that's waiting to be filled with sites that can't and probably won't be touched by the website registration regulation.

have fun with implementing this new website registration system traditonally (old paper joke) or on the web cos the way i see it - this isn't going to work at all :D

oh and, if the MoI decides to go with web-based technologies on this one, that would be theoretically/practically a website upon which a web-based registration system is based - again comes down to still being a website - who will register that website? the MoI? or will we have to create another Ministry and call it the Ministry of the MoI Website Registration to monitor the MoI's 'website registration' internet site? because obviously if the MoI can be allowed to monitor their own website activities/happenings then why couldn't the bahrain-based/bahraini webmasters be given that same responsibility as well in the first place? So according to this new regulation, we'd be needing a new ministry to be formed to oversee, monitor and register the MoI's bahrain website/webmaster registration site! Why the need for all this fiasco, if you will?    

Anonymous arafat says:
4/26/2005 05:52:00 am

man, that sucks!    

Anonymous MMM says:
4/26/2005 10:57:00 am

This is insane.

I agree that it's totally impossible to get you all registered and that this plan is so flawed.

Maybe it's a scare tactic.

I hope they don't use the cheap way of putting pressure on the people who have made themselves known on their blogs.    

Blogger Chanad says:
4/26/2005 06:07:00 pm

With regards to the Information Ministry's decision, Muscati writes the following:
There's a Dilbert comic that ran last month in which the pointy-haired boss asked Dilbert to make a print-out of the internet because he wanted to do "some serious surfing." As I read today's news of what the Bahraini government is about to do, all I could think is that point-haired boss exists in real life, and he's a minister in Bahrain.

Perfect comparison!    

Anonymous SI says:
5/13/2005 08:37:00 am

One word - surprized!    

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