Saudi Arabia intent on monitoring communications

Country close to reaching agreement with operators of Whatsapp, Viber and Skype, Al Arabiya reports, to access data for security purposes.

The iPhone 5 on display 370 (photo credit: Beck Diefenbach / Reuters)
The iPhone 5 on display 370
(photo credit: Beck Diefenbach / Reuters)
Saudi Arabia is close to reaching an agreement with the operators of Whatsapp, Viber and Skype in order to be able to monitor communications through these platforms, according to a report on the Al Arabiya website on Tuesday. However, if no deal is reached, Saudi Arabia may move to block the programs.
The Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) requested that the Saudi Telecommunications Company (STC) find a way for the government to monitor these communication programs, according to a source quoted by Al Arabiya.
The site also quotes the managing director of the National Information Systems Company, Abdulrahman Mazi, as saying that Saudi companies will be required to block the programs if no agreement is reached.
Mazi also stated that IP providers in the country must give the government access to any requested data for security purposes. It would take three to four months to implement the block, he said.
Saudi Arabia’s citizens are among the leaders in the region in terms of using social media. Al Arabiya reported that there are three million Twitter users in the country, which is more than in any other country in the Middle East.
This comes after a report on Sunday on the website that Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti criticized Twitter in the Al Watan newspaper as a “council of clowns” for people to “unleash unjust, incorrect, and wrong tweets.”