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March 27, 2013

Saudi Arabia set to make call on Skype, Viber and WhatsApp blocks

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Jeddah, Mar 27: An agreement is expected to be reached between the Saudi telecommunication sector and operators of WhatsApp, Viber and Skype, Al Arabiya reported Tuesday, after the Saudi government threatened to block the messaging applications earlier in the week.

A source told Al Arabiya that the Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) officially requested the Saudi Telecommunications Company (STC) to find a technical solution that will enable the government to monitor WhatsApp, Viber and Skype this week.

Abdulrahman Mazi, the managing director of the National Information Systems Company, said that local telecommunications companies and IP providers in Saudi Arabia will be obliged to block the applications if no agreement is reached.

The government will study the possibility of blocking the mentioned applications if it fails to reach a decision with the operators, the source added.

However, the process of blocking the applications will take three to four months, he said.

Mazil told Al Arabiya that the licenses of IP providers in Saudi Arabia oblige them to disclose any type of data when the government requests so, especially for security reasons.

He added that the Kingdom request to monitor these applications is not new; several countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom have taken the same step.

If the agreement is reached, Mazi said the income of Saudi telecommunication companies will increase. The step might add a monthly charge of SR10 ($2.5) for the users of these services.

Saudi Arabia set to make call on Skype, Viber and WhatsApp blocks

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