Saudi Arabia threatens to block WhatsApp within weeks – report

Saudi Arabia threatens to block WhatsApp within weeks – report

17 JUN 2013
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Unless US-based WhatsApp complies with Saudi Arabia’s telecoms regulation, national authorities have plans to block the popular messaging service within weeks, according to a Reuters report quoting local newspapers.

“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,” Abdullah Al-Darrab, governor of the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), told Arab News.

CITC reportedly wants to monitor usage of so-called over-the-top (OTT) applications, which steer call and texting revenue away from operators. Details of what OTT compliance actually entails, however, are sketchy.

Viber, a communications app, has already been banned in Saudi Arabia.

Skype, along with WhatsApp, may now be next on the banned OTT list according to the CITC chief.

When asked when WhatsApp services would be blocked, Al-Darrab said it was highly likely to be before the holy month of Ramadan, which starts on 9 July.

The regulator issued a directive in March saying that Viber, WhatsApp and Skype broke local laws, but without saying how.

Saudi Arabia’s three main operators – Saudi Telecom, Etisalat (Mobily) and Zain Saudi – were reportedly asked at the time to tell CITC if they were able to monitor or block such applications.

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Ken Wieland

Ken has been part of the MWC Mobile World Daily editorial team for the last three years, and is now contributing regularly to Mobile World Live. He has been a telecoms journalist for over 15 years, which includes eight...More

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