March 26, 2013
Encrypted messaging services such as Skype, Viber and WhatsApp could be blocked in Saudi Arabia, the telecommunications regulator there is reported to have warned, according to BBC News.
It is demanding a means to monitor such applications, but Saudis say that would seriously inhibit their communications.
Saudi newspapers are reporting that the companies behind the applications have been given a week to respond. No explanation has been given of why the demand has been made.
Ahmed Omran, a Saudi blogger who runs the Riyadh Bureau site, says that Saudi telecom companies may be tempted to go along with the request from the regulator – even though it will upset their customers – because of the loss of revenue they suffer from the free apps, which are hugely popular in the country.
One Saudi source goes further – with an article in the local Arab News suggesting that it may even have been the telecom companies themselves that have been demanding that action be taken against the apps.