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Saudi govt moves to exert control over Whatsapp, Skype

updated 08:33 pm EDT, Sun March 31, 2013

Messaging tools could be in violation of Saudi laws

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has issued orders to its regulatory bodies to ensure that communication tools like Skype and Whatsapp comply with the government's stringent requirements governing Internet communications. The kingdom's Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) announced last week that it had "become evident that some communication applications through (the) Internet don't meet regulatory requirements." The regulatory body did not, though, specify which laws certain apps might be violating.

The CITC's statement listed Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) providers like Skype and Viber, as well as instant messaging service app Whatsapp, according to Reuters. The governing body cited the need to "protect society from any negative aspects that could harm the public interest" as a motivating factor behind its order.

The order requires that telecom companies look at ways to monitor or block the aforementioned services, as well as other similar services.

Approximately 50 percent of Saudi Arabia's 28.08 million citizens have access to the Internet, according to CITC data. The average Saudi Internet user watches three times as many online videos per day as their United States counterparts, according to YouTube.

The kingdom has been moving to exert greater control over the Internet as access has grown. On Saturday, reports emerged that the kingdom may try to end anonymity for Twitter users by blocking access to the site for people who have not registered their identification documents.

by MacNN Staff



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