CITC: WhatsApp to be blocked before Ramadan

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Updated 14 June 2013
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CITC: WhatsApp to be blocked before Ramadan

The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has announced that it will block WhatsApp before Ramadan if the US-based instant free-messaging application does not comply with the requirements set by the Kingdom’s telecom regulator.
Arab News’ sister publication Al-Eqtisadiah had reported earlier that representatives of WhatsApp have refused to accept the regulatory conditions issued by the CITC.
“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,” Abdullah Al-Darrab, governor of the CITC, told Arab News in a telephone interview.
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.”
Asked when WhatsApp services would be blocked, the CITC chief replied: “It is highly likely before Ramadan.”
Al-Darrab said the CITC has requested communication platforms that provide services via the Internet to establish a local server to enable the Kingdom’s telecom regulator to monitor user activity.
“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,” he said.
Founder and CEO of Viber, Talmon Marco, has reportedly said that Viber is currently working on overcoming the block.
Nonetheless, residents in the Kingdom have said that news of blocking Viber and threats to sever other applications are unacceptable and threaten the Kingdom’s advancement in global technology and modernization.
“I understand that they want to be able to monitor all types of communications, but the CITC must realize that they can’t just cut Saudi residents off from the rest of the world by blocking new services,” Nourah Farida, a Saudi businesswoman, told Arab News. “This is because Viber, Skype and WhatsApp are used for personal and business communication.”
Farida concluded that she usually conducts weekly coanference calls via Skype with colleagues in the UAE and other countries and that blocking these services is expected to incur heavy costs on local businesses.
“How are we supposed to communicate globally, are we expected to go back to using text messages and e-mails?” she asked.
In 2010, the CITC threatened to ban BlackBerry’s instant messaging service, requesting that a local server be established to monitor activity. Eventually, the ban was lifted after BlackBerry’s creator, Canada-based Research in Motion (RIM), complied with the regulatory requirements.                                  


Saudi air defense forces intercept Houthi ballistic missile heading targeting Jazan

This is not the first incident where the Houthis have targeted civilian areas in Saudi Arabia, last week the air defense forces intercepted another missile aiming at Jazan. (Reuters)
Updated 19 min 23 sec ago
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Saudi air defense forces intercept Houthi ballistic missile heading targeting Jazan

  • Saudi Arabia’s air defense forces intercepted a ballistic missile launched by the Iran-backed Houthi militia targeting Jazan early Monday morning
  • This is not the first incident where the Houthis have targeted civilian areas in Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s air defense forces intercepted a ballistic missile launched by the Iran-backed Houthi militia targeting Jazan early Monday morning, Saudi state-news agency SPA reported.
The Arab coalition’s spokesperson, Col. Turki Al-Maliki, said no civilians were reported injured by the rocket fragments scattered across residential areas.
This is not the first incident where the Houthis have targeted civilian areas in Saudi Arabia, last week the air defense forces intercepted another missile aiming at Jazan
“Such hostile and random acts carried out by the Houthi militia prove the continued involvement of the Iranian regime in the Yemeni war,” Al-Maliki said at the time.
“Iran has been, and still is, supporting the armed militia by providing them with qualitative capabilities. This support comes as a clear and explicit defiance of UN Resolutions 2216 and 2231 in order to threaten the Kingdom and regional and global security,” he added.