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June 17, 2013

Saudi Arabia plans to ban WhatsApp and Skype

Recently blocked Viber over non-compliance.

By CBR Staff Writer

Saudi Arabia is set to ban Internet-based communication tools, WhatsApp and Skype, within weeks (by July 9, 2013), if the US firms fail to conform to the rules set by the country’s Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC).

During early June 2013, the telecoms regulator banned Viber, which was said to be eating away revenue elecoms firms generated from international calls and texts.

Saudi Arabia also appears to be attempting to gain more control over cyberspace with the rise in Internet and smart phone usage, partially over strict laws that limit opportunities for users to mix in person.

CITC governor was cited by the Arab News as saying: "We have been communicating with WhatsApp and other similar communication platforms to get them to cooperate and comply with the Saudi telecom providers, however nothing has come of this communication yet."

In March, the regulator issued a directive saying tools including Viber, WhatsApp and Skype violated country’s laws.

Earlier, the government had temporarily banned BlackBerry messenger services after BlackBerry reportedly did not stick to the country’s regulatory requirements.

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