Bloggers in Saudi Arabia may have a harder time making themselves heard this year.

The Saudi Arabian government is now requiring its nationals to have a license before they start posting things online, reported ITP, a technology website in the Middle East.

Those caught blogging without a permit from the Ministry of Culture and Information may be subjected to a fine of up to $26,664 and a possible ban on all online activity.

“The stringent new regulations, which went into effect on January 1, 2011, also state that all Saudi news blogs and electronic news sites will now be licensed and required to strictly abide by Sharia law and ‘include the call to the religion of Islam,'” ITP said in its report.

Only Saudi nationals who are at least 20 years old and a high school graduate can register for a blogging license. If approved, they will be required to provide detailed information on their hosting company, and their posts will be closely monitored.

Websites and blogs that the government disapproves of will be shut down.

Saudi nationals who post on online forums, communicate on listservs and enter in chatrooms are also advised to register with the government under the new law.

Meanwhile, non-nationals are still allowed to post their views online, but not about news.

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