The decision by the Saudi authorities to oblige a large number of facilities to install “surveillance cameras” in their buildings has sparked controversy between supporters of the decision and opponents, who saw it as a new monitoring tool by the authorities.
On September 27, the Saudi Cabinet approved the decision to compel a number of Saudi authorities to install surveillance cameras in their buildings.
The system of using security surveillance cameras means the placement of fixed or mobile camera devices designed to capture moving images at the targeted locations.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Presidency of State Security have the right to watch the broadcast and recordings of security surveillance cameras, keep a copy of them, and process and analyze their data, if there is a necessity and security-related reasons, according to the “Sabq” website.
Where will it be placed?
About 22 entities, including “schools, universities, all public and private health facilities, medical cities, hospitals and clinics”, were required to install surveillance cameras.
The security surveillance camera system targets ministries, public authorities and institutions, oil and petrochemical facilities, power generation and water desalination facilities, tourist accommodation facilities, commercial complexes and marketing centers, financial institutions, banks, exchange and money transfer centers, residential buildings, the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque , mosques, mosques and clubs, sports and stadiums.
It also targets “public, private and cultural facilities, youth centers, public and private recreational facilities, public and private health facilities, hospitals and clinics, commercial warehouses, main roads and their intersections within cities, highways connecting cities and governorates, gas stations and gas sales points, and public and private educational facilities.” and establishments providing food services.
The decision includes “public transport, venues for events and festivals, places of economic and commercial activity, public and private museums, historical and heritage sites prepared to receive visitors,” and any site, activity or facility “that the Ministry of Home Affairs considered added.”
And it was forbidden to install security surveillance cameras in 9 places, which are “the medical examination room, hypnosis, physiotherapy, changing rooms, toilets, salons and women’s clubs.”
Twitter was flooded with posts commenting on the decision, some in favor and some against it.
The Saudi writer and political analyst, Abdul Rahman Al-Mulhim, believes that the decision is for the benefit of a wide segment of Saudis and residents on Saudi soil, given considerations related to the safety and security of the Kingdom.
In statements to the “Al-Hurra” website, he pointed out that “a wide sector of Saudis welcomed the decision, which is in the interest of the citizen and carries security dimensions more than anything else.”
Al-Mulhim denied that the decision was intended to restrict or limit “liberties” as it was “just a belief of a simple few”, but it remains “unrealistic.”
The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights accuses the authorities in the Kingdom of restricting freedoms, saying in a report issued on September 23, which coincides with the Queen’s National Day, that “the Saudi government uses laws , including the anti-terrorism law and the cybercrime law, to hold accountable critics of the king and the crown prince or any state policy.
Other human rights organizations, including ALQST, accuse the authorities of imposing severe restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression, which Saudi Arabia denies, emphasizing its “work to preserve and protect human rights,” according to the “United National Platform.”