Saudi Arabia threatening to ban Free Communication Apps

The head regulator for telecommunications in Saudi Arabia has reportedly warned that the Kingdom might block messaging services such as Skype, Viper and WhatsApp that are encrypted.

Saudi authorities demanded from the companies that operate the apps a way that they can monitor them, but people in Saudi Arabia said that would inhibit them from communicating. Newspapers in the country reported that the app companies have been given one week by the telecommunications regulator to respond to the demand.

However, one blogger in Riyadh said that the telecom companies located in Saudi Arabia could be tempted to go along with the request by the regulator even if customers become upset. He said that because of the loss of revenue the companies are sustaining because of the free apps that have become hugely popular in the country.

Social media has become hugely popular in Saudi Arabia and created a huge impact on society. Saudis however do not see the threat the same as others. People in Saudi Arabia see the threat as depriving them of not being able to communicate freely with both family and friends. Outsiders however, see the threat as a way to not allow Saudis to freely express themselves publically on both social and political issues.

One female user of the apps in Saudi Arabia stated it would be uncomfortable for her to talk with her relatives on her Skype account without wearing her headscarf (hijab), if she thought the telecommunications ministry was monitoring her conversations.

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