WHY IS NETFLIX ENABLING THE SAUDI CRACKDOWN ON PRESS FREEDOM? | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


WHY IS NETFLIX ENABLING THE SAUDI CRACKDOWN ON PRESS FREEDOM?

Netflix's decision to take down an episode of Hasan Minhaj's Patriot Act show sets a bad precedent.

Netflix's decision to comply with the request from Saudi Arabia to block the second episode of the original series Patriot Act, a news commentary show by comic Hasan Minhaj, is concerning both because of the precedent it sets and the signal it sends to autocrats around the world.

By enabling censorship in Saudi Arabia just months after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman allegedly ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the company is restricting an important avenue of information on an issue of great importance in one of the most censored countries in the world. It is also signalling to other repressive states that it will comply with censorship requests and vague cybercrime laws that do not comply with international norms.

As the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), where I work, has documented, cybercrime laws are used to stifle independent and critical reporting and commentary throughout the Middle East and elsewhere.

The second episode of Patriot Act, which featured a searing 27-minute commentary eviscerating the Saudi political establishment over the Khashoggi murder, aired on October 28, but it was not until two months later that Netflix acquiesced to an official Saudi request and removed it. In its request to the company, the Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission had cited Article 6 of its cybercrime law, according to reports.

The article stipulates that anyone found guilty of using computer networks to aid human trafficking, pornography and gambling, or drugs and impinging on public order or morals faces jail terms of up to five years and fines of up to three million riyals ($800,000).

Webmaster's Commentary: 

Netfluster (my new name for Netflix) has just proven, incontrovertibly, that they have become a huge part of the 4th branch of the government; We now have the Executive, the Legislative, the Judicial, and the Intelligence arm, which Netfluster has absolutely become.

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