Saudi Arabia’s telecommunication regulator is threatening to ban VoIP (voice over IP) and mobile messaging services.
VoIP Services Ban
Saudi Arabia’s telecommunication regulator is threatening to ban VoIP (voice over IP) and mobile messaging services. The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) in the country is also demanding that it be allowed to monitor these encrypted applications, and if the operators of the communication platform cannot, or do not, provide a monitoring service by the end of the week, the Commission will begin to take measures to ban the services.
Saudi Arabia residents have shown much concern over the ban, as these platforms, such as Skype, Viber, and WhatsApp, are frequently used as a cheap way to connect with family members and friends overseas. Many others have expressed their confusion behind the monitoring, wondering why the government would want to listen in on their conversations in the first place.
It’s suspected that some telecom companies will be quick to comply with the CITC’s request, as they are losing a large portion of their revenue to the free VoIP apps. Others are even speculating that the telecom companies are behind the ban, pushing the CITC to remove the no-charge apps that are depleting their revenue and taking their customers.
This isn’t the first time that the CITC has removed a service that was not easily monitored. In August of 2010, Saudi Arabia announced that it would no longer allow the use of Blackberry Messenger, email, and Web browsing “due to security concerns”. However, the ban was short-lived, and two weeks later Saudi Arabia had regained use of their Blackberry services. In January of 2011, Blackberry agreed to allow the government access to Blackberry Messenger and email.
Grand Mufti Sheik Abdul-Aziz Al-Sheik, a religious leader in Saudi Arabia, made the case Friday that Twitter should be included in the ban, along with other micro-blogging sites. He called it a “council of jokesters”, and a place for unjust, incorrect messages.
To learn more about Saudi Arabia and the ban on VoIP services, visit the following links:
- Cloud VoIP
- Saudi Arabia may ban VOIP and messaging services
- Saudi Arabia Threatens to Ban Skype, Other VoIP Services