RIYADH: If you have VPN (Virtual Private Network) installed on your mobile to open sites and use apps that are banned in Saudi Arabia, delete them as soon as possible. If not, heavy punishment awaits those caught. The punishment may be a fine of 10 lakh riyals or imprisonment for one year or both.
The authorities are reminding that if the police or other authorities find the VPN on the phone, they will face legal action soon. Saudi Arabia’s Communications, Space and Technology Commission (CITC) identifies and blocks websites and apps that are against the country’s traditions, social, religious moral values and legal systems, and that endanger national security.
Audio video calling on WhatsApp is banned in Saudi Arabia. To overcome it, many people, including expatriates, use the video audio call facility by installing various VPNs on Playstore and App Store. The convenience of being able to run banned websites and applications through a VPN is what prompts most people to install them on their phones without adequate awareness of the legal rules and penalties. It should also be remembered that even if it is installed and hidden in the mobile phone, it can be easily detected by the police during the inspection. According to the Saudi Anti-Cyber Crime Act Rule 3, if it is found that any banned website has been opened during the inspection, a fine of five lakh riyals will be imposed.
About 60,000 websites have been banned in Saudi Arabia for having sexual content. Among those banned are sites that display semi-nudity, sites that promote LGBT rights and culture, dating apps and sites, news portals with content against the country and government policies, and websites with content that promotes hatred, instability, anarchy, violence and sectarianism among indigenous people. Also, portals of terrorist and terrorist organizations and banned organizations that threaten national security and people’s peace, sites with content against Islam and the Prophet, portals that spread false information about Islam, copyright violations, and websites that provide hacking software.
Shopping sites that sell fake products and products not approved for sale in the country, portals that sell alcohol and drugs. CITC has banned many portals and applications such as portals aimed at suicide and internet abuse, websites for gambling and online betting, VPN websites, etc. Officials also remind that if you open using VPN or other means to view such banned sites, there will be a fine of up to five lakh Riyals.