Kuwait has implemented a new electronic media law requiring all web-based publications to obtain a licence from the government before they can operate.
Under the new rules, which apply to electronic news services, bulletins, websites of newspapers and television channels, the owner and director of online services must also be Kuwaiti, according to Kuwait Times.
The country’s Ministry of Information was quoted as saying the new rules were designed to promote freedom of expression.
“It also aims to eliminate all impediments to the spread of information on electronic media outlets in a way that would conserve national values and interests,” state news agency KUNA said.
The agency stated that there would be no prior censorship of what is circulated via electronic sites and facilities.
The ministry urged those running online new services to register for a licence on its website. Those already in existence have one year to comply with the law.
Punishments for websites found to violate the law will include jail terms for several offences.
According to Kuwait Times, information Minister Sheikh Salman Al-Humoud Al-Sabah insisted in January that the new law would not apply to personal accounts like those of bloggers.