After blocking Viber, Saudi Arabia now turns its attention to WhatsApp

artImg198x166_15065Saudi Government wants a local server, which will allow the security officials to monitor all communication on the network.

The Government in Saudi Arabia plans to block popular messaging application, WhatsApp, before Ramadan. This threat comes just days after the government blocked the popular Internet calling, chat and messaging service, Viber. An official from the Communications and Information Technology Commission told Arab News about this development.

“We have been communicating with WhatsApp and other similar communication platforms to get them to cooperate and comply with the Saudi telecom providers, however nothing has come of this communication yet,” said Abdullah Al-Darrab, governor of the CITC. “We gave them a week to comply and have been communicating with them since March to no avail. Therefore, this has left us with no choice but to block these services, beginning with Viber.”

One of the Saudi Government regulations stipulate that a local server be put in place, which allows the government and the security agencies to monitor all activity on the network. In effect, snoop in on any user’s conversations whenever they so desire.

Al-Dabban added that Viber was blocked last week for its noncompliance, while WhatsApp and Skype are next on the list, warning: “We will take punitive action against these applications and services if they do not comply with the regulations.”

This is not the first time when governments in the middle-east countries have felt the need to block application that aid communication. And the Saudi government is itself a very active member of the bunch of countries that want to monitor all communication floating around in their airspace. BlackBerry Messenger services were blocked in Saudi Arabia sometime back, because of what it complained at that time was a “matter of national security”.

The latest threats to block popular messaging services have been streaming in since March this year, and Viber has already been on the chopping board. Whatsapp is next on the target, and Skype cannot be far behind, since it is regularly mentioned in the threats as well.