Saudi Arabia may block WhatsApp within weeks. In March, Saudi officials threatened to block popular Internet messaging, call and chat services; WhatsApp, Skype and Viber if they did not comply with local government regulations. This latest warning was issued after the Communications and Information Technology Commission blocked the popular messaging app Viber last week.
Is Big Brother watching?
One of the regulations stipulates that WhatsApp establish a local server that allows officials to monitor user activity, Abdullah Al-Darrab told the news agency Arab News. Al-Darrab, governor of the CITC, informed the English language news station that Saudi Arabia plans to block WhatsApp in coming weeks if the makers of the mobile chat app don’t comply with local regulations.
“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…We gave them a week to comply and have been communicating with them since March to no avail,” he said. “Therefore, this has left us with no choice but to block these services, beginning with Viber.”
The government in Saudi Arabia have cracked down on messaging apps before, temporarily banning BlackBerry messenger services after BlackBerry reportedly didn’t adhere to the country’s strict regulatory requirements. The Saudi government complained at that time the encrypted security used in the BlackBerry Messenger network prevented the government from monitoring communications channels, which it said could be used to threaten national security.
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