Access to Viber blocked... What’s up next?

The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), Saudi Arabia’s telecom regulator, shut down Internet messenger application Viber on Wednesday for failing to comply with regulations.

June 05, 2013





RIYADH – The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), Saudi Arabia’s telecom regulator, shut down Internet messenger application Viber on Wednesday for failing to comply with regulations.



“Viber has failed to comply with the regulatory conditions... in this Kingdom and was stopped from starting up today (Wednesday),” CITC said in a statement on its website. The CITC also warned that “appropriate action will be taken against other applications or services that do not comply with regulations.”



Viber allows subscribers to make free calls, send instant messages and share files over the Internet.



Attempts to use Viber on two different smartphones and to download it onto a computer failed to work on Wednesday. A message on the Viber website explained the service had been banned in Saudi Arabia.



In March, the CITC had told service providers to work with the developers of such applications to “quickly meet the regulatory conditions.”



And it warned of “suitable measures” if providers of messenger applications – WhatsApp, Skype and Viber – failed to comply with its rules.



In the neighboring United Arab Emirates, most Skype applications and Viber calls are blocked, but WhatsApp messenger remains accessible.



In 2010, the two Gulf neighbors threatened to ban BlackBerry instant messaging and demanded that the company install local servers to monitor the service.



Instant messaging services on BlackBerry remain uninterrupted.



Mobile penetration in Saudi Arabia was 188 percent by the end of 2012, CITC data shows.



The Kingdom now has 15.8 million Internet subscribers and the average user watches three times as many online videos per day as counterparts in the United States, according to YouTube. – Agencies


June 05, 2013
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