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Saudi Arabia may block Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, others

April 3, 2013 | Telepresence Options


Story and Images by Mohammed Jamjoom / CNN

Saudi Arabia may block access to popular Internet messaging applications like Skype, Viber and WhatsApp if telecommunication providers there don't comply with rules and regulatory conditions, according to the country's official news agency, SPA.

A statement from Saudi Arabia's Communications and Information Technology Commission released via SPA read, "The Commission emphasizes that it will take appropriate action regarding these applications and services in the event of failure to meet those conditions."

The statement did not address how the applications in question -- which allow Internet users to communicate with each other via text messages and voice calls -- were violating any rules, but it did highlight the need for service providers in the country to quickly "work with the developers of these applications to meet regulatory requirements."

Sunday's announcement came in response to local media reports last week claiming the CITC, the country's telecommunications regulator, had asked Saudi telecom companies to allow the government to monitor those applications and had given them until Saturday to respond.

Despite repeated attempts, CNN was unable to reach the CITC or any of Saudi Arabia's three mobile providers (Saudi Telecom Co., Zain Group and Mobily) for comment.

Sunday's move was met with derision by many Saudi social media users.

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