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Saudi Arabia may block WhatsApp from July 9

Country telecom regulator says talks with communication platforms have stagnated, and following Viber's block from the country last week, WhatsApp, and Skype are next on the list.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor
Saudi Arabia will block WhatsApp within weeks if it fails to comply with the requirements set by the country's telecom regulator.

Saudi Arabia reportedly is planning to block access to WhatsApp within weeks, if the U.S.-based messaging provider fails to comply with requirements set by the country's telecom regulator.

According to a Reuters report Sunday, citing local newspaper Arab News, Abdullah Al-Darrab, governor of the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), said the government had been communicating with companies providing WhatsApp and other similar communication services to urge them to cooperate and comply with Saudi telecom providers, enabling the local telcos to censor the services. However, "nothing has come of this communication yet", the governor said.

Al-Darrab said Viber was blocked last week as it was difficult for the state to monitor and deprive telecom companies of revenue generated from international calls and texts, adding that WhatsApp and Skype may be next on the list.

Asked when WhatsApp services will be blocked, the CITC chief said it was highly likely to commence before the holy month of Ramadan, expected to begin July 9, 2013.

The Saudi Arabia regulator in March said it was working with over-the-top (OTT) service providers to resolve the issue. Back in 2010, the Middle Eastern country also threatened to ban BlackBerry Messenger services unless the Canadian company allowed the regulator greater control to monitor messages.

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