We’ve spoken a lot about the pros and cons of online anonymity, a discussion which was recently spurred by Google+’s short-lived real name policy which forced users to sign up for the site using only their real names.
In Kuwait, the Ministry of Interior is in the process of enforcing a rule of their own on Twitter which prevents Kuwaiti users from using anonymous accounts.
According to the Kuwaiti News Agency, in a press statement made yesterday, the Ministry announced the intention to suspend any anonymous accounts on Twitter. It was not made clear how they would go about doing so and whether or not they would be asking Twitter itself to suspend the accounts.
The statement went on to say that the move was meant to protect the rights of citizens and residents who have found themselves the subject of slander through statements made by these anonymous accounts, a crime punishable by law in the country, as it is in the UAE.
Statements made on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook have already landed users in jail in the Middle East, and Kuwait has been no exception.
Kuwaiti citizen Nasser Abul was arrested for criticizing the Saudi and Bahraini royal families on Twitter, while Lawrence al-Rashidi was arrested for comments made about Kuwait’s own royal family. While Abul was released 3 months later, there has been no news of al-Rashidi’s trial in the past few months.
Freedom of expression when it comes to personal opinions has certainly been a murky topic in Kuwait, as was demonstrated by the lawsuit brought against a Kuwaiti blogger for a less-than favourable review of a restaurant.