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Internet freedom remained highly restricted in Saudi Arabia.

  • 2021 score & STATUS
  • 24 / 100 Not Free
  • Scores based on a scale of 0 (least free) to 100 (most free)

The Saudi government increasingly seeks to expand high-quality internet access across the country; however, the restrictive absolute monarchy limits the range of information available online.

Authorities operate extensive censorship and surveillance systems and lend their backing to online networks of bots and accounts that disseminate pro-government messaging and attack perceived dissenters.

Activists, journalists, government employees, and other professionals cite a climate of fear in which many feel compelled to self-censor or engage in pro-government discourse online.

Critics, activists, and others perceived to voice dissent online face severe punishment, including harassment and arrest. Despite this, several human rights activists were conditionally released or had their prison sentences and travel bans reduced during the coverage period.

The absolute monarchy restricts almost all political rights and civil liberties.

No officials at the national level are elected.

The regime relies on extensive surveillance, the criminalization of dissent, appeals to sectarianism and ethnicity, and public spending supported by oil revenues to maintain power.

Women and religious minorities face extensive discrimination in law and practice.

Working conditions for the large expatriate labour force are often exploitative.

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