Viber app banned in Saudi Arabia – could WhatsApp and Skype be next?

5 Jun 2013

Image via Viber on Google+

Communications app Viber has been banned by the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) in Saudi Arabia for failing to comply with the kingdom’s regulations.

In a statement published by Reuters, the CITC offered a weak explanation:”The Viber application has been suspended … and the (regulator) affirms it will take appropriate action against any other applications or services if they fail to comply with regulatory requirements and rules in force in the kingdom.”

The Saudi Arabian authority does not, however, make clear the rules that Viber is said to have broken.

The telecommunications regulator previously issued a warning in March that apps such as Viber, WhatsApp and Skype were in breach of local laws. At the time, it was reported that Saudi Arabia’s three main operators had been asked by CITC if they could monitor or block these services.

Apps such as these allow users to make calls using VOIP and send instant messages and pictures using a data connection, thus bypassing charges from telecom operators. In March of this year, Viber announced that it had reached 200m users in 193 countries while also introducing video calling through its new desktop apps.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.