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Government ministers and public officials—such as the head of Riyadh’s so-called morality police—have been dismissed from posts due to public uproar over viral videos of abuse on social media.Large numbers of Saudis use circumvention tools to access banned content and services, even if they are reluctant to express themselves due to strict legal penalties for political, social, or religious speech on certain topics.The government continues to promote internet use as a tool for economic development and e-government services, where it is ahead of many countries in the region.Mobile broadband penetration continued to increase and Saudis remained some of the most active social media users in the world.Overall, infrastructure is not considered a major barrier to access except in remote and sparsely populated areas.Internet penetration is highest in major cities such as Riyadh and Jeddah, as well as in the oil-rich Eastern Province.For example, access to Wikipedia is provided free of charge by STC to all of its mobile data users, Internet cafes, once prevalent, have become less popular in recent years due to the broad availability and affordability of home broadband access.
The internet is the least repressive space for expression in the country.
Fixed broadband subscriptions stood at 45.3 percent of all households, with a majority using ADSL connections.
Monthly expenditure on 4G broadband ranged from between SAR 55 (US) for a 2GB allowance to SAR 95 (US) for a 20GB allowance.
Repression has been institutionalized under antiterrorism and cybercrime laws that have instilled fear into activists and ordinary social media users alike.
Several well-known activists were sentenced to 8–10 years in prison over the past year, while ordinary citizens and migrant workers were also targeted for smaller online crimes.