Saudi telecoms regulator probes logistics of WhatsApp ban

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Saudi Arabia’s telecoms regulator has contacted local service providers to inquire about the logistics of disconnecting WhatsApp, according to the al-Hayat newspaper.

The Saudi Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) last week approached the Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Mobily and Zain to examine how to technically disconnect the free-messaging service, al-Hayatreported, citing an unnamed telecoms technician.

The source confirmed that telecoms companies are capable of disconnecting the service at any given time, but said the CITC has not given the order yet, the newspaper reported.

The CITC said previously it would clamp down on free smartphone applications such as WhatsApp and Viber if they don’t comply with certain regulations, according to a statement on the regulator’s website.

Viber was banned earlier in June. “It did not meet the set requirements and the Kingdom’s rules and regulations,” said a statement issued announcing the ban.

“We have been communicating with WhatsApp and other similar communication platforms… however nothing has come of this communication yet,” Abdullah Al-Darrab, governor of the CITC, told Arab News in June.

He added that the service will “highly likely” be blocked before Ramadan, reported Arab News.

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