BY | June 17, 2013

After taking tough action against Viber, Saudi Arabia is all set to ban WhatsApp before Ramadan 2013. Saudi Arabia is the most autocratic region not just in the Middle East, but across the world.

Following the ban over popular voice and messaging app Viber last week, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia plans to block WhatsApp messaging tool in its territory. The country has sent in warning to the WhatsApp team to make the chatting app comply with the local regulations within a timeframe of a week. If it is not processed during the week, the service can no longer be provided in the country.

It is said the KSA Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) pushes WhatsApp and similar services to set up local servers that let their officials monitor user activities. In case the social networking sites fail to establish local servers, they can’t continue to provide services in the country. It was the same reason that ended up in the ban over Viber and many other services in country in past.

“We’ve 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,” Al-Darrab said. “Therefore, this has left us with no choice but to block these services, beginning with Viber.”

It is not a surprise for anyone to see the Saudi government’s strict actions over social media and other online communities. In the past, it has had a lot of strict actions against various social media sites, citing the reason of not adhering to the country’s regulatory requirements.

Recently, Saudi government temporarily blocked BlackBerry messenger services as BlackBerry reportedly failed to adhere to the country’s rules and regulations. The government described it as a strict move taken as it used encrypted security that prevented the government from accessing the information shared by its users. The similar threat also hangs over a variety of online services that include Skype and a lot of other sites.

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