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Will it be carrier pigeons after WhatsApp block in Saudi Arabia?

Badria al-Bishr

Published: Updated:

Telecommunications regulatory commissions have the right to act smart with you and, for example, make your mobile number available for advertising companies. And thus the commission gets paid after imposing an obligatory service on you. On the other hand, your mobile device, if you had bought because it is smartphone, does not have the right to do its “smart job. “

Monitoring WhatsApp, Skype and Viber in Saudi Arabia is only a threat to get smartphone users to pay more money

Dr. Badria al-Bishr

It seems that owners of smart phones in Saudi Arabia- Blackberry, iPhone, Galaxy and other devices - whom the company contributed selling for thousands of Saudi riyals have to get rid of their phones because there is nothing that distinguishes them from old cheaper devices. Why? It is because the telecommunications commission, despite the billions it makes, discovered that it is not gaining a marginal profit. It has also discovered that it can divert this profit towards its treasury. Therefore, it has revealed to us that the series of its previous procedure - claiming to fight terrorism - is nothing more than an aspect reflecting the obscene greed which has no laws governing it.

Monitoring WhatsApp, Skype and Viber in Saudi Arabia is only a threat to get users to pay more money. These services allow users to send messages and make audio calls through the internet - these calls often disconnect every minute due to the bad internet and you end up only resorting to them when you have no other choice. The telecommunications commissions thus thought these services to be so much for you. If you hear how the commissions complain that their profits are going down, you would think that people use their services for free or for a small amount of money that is less than what the service costs. It is well-known however that telecommunication's fees in the Gulf are among the most expansive in the world.

Pick-pocketing?

The telecommunications commission has the right to play smart on you and provide you with an offer that takes money straight out from your pocket. It has the right to raise fees whenever it wants and to interfere and monitor you under the excuse of fighting terrorism. It sometimes turns into an agent that sells smart phones. So you buy the phone from it because it is smart and then it shuts down the smart applications and in the end it is the commission who is really smart.

It is clear here that the standard for smartness is how a party saves you your money by selling you an expansive mobile device and then another party comes and blocks what you paid for. Those who bought smart phones for an amount of money which is almost equal to their monthly pay bought them on the basis that they are smart devices. A price is paid for internet to use services and that is how the telecommunications commission makes profit. But the telecommunications commission realized this was not enough as it seems that users with low income only send messages and avoid making extended calls. In this case, the commission loses money. So, according to what dailies published, the commission made its threats to block smart apps on smart phones - which are no longer distinguished from cheap phones.

I can no longer pick up calls on my phone in Dubai because I daily receive calls from companies pertaining to investment and real estate, or companies selling magical brooms and pots that you can cook in without using oil. In Riyadh, every day I delete 100 advertising messages on offers to organize wedding balls, whiten the skin, explain dreams and read the Qur'an. When it comes to men, I realized that the offers they receive are for Misyar marriage and laser beard removal. It seems that the commission is making an effort that it must be thanked for, in differentiating the offers between genders.

The commission has the right to enlist my number in its advertising list if it is providing me with a free service. But it is unrivaled smartness to take money from me and from the advertiser and to sell me a smart phone that it later deprives of its smartness. This would not have happened if it had not been for the absence of an environment of law and of a commission that protects users. All this given, I can only call on you to resort to the carrier-pigeon. But do not think it is unlikely for the commission to find another trick. It may impose an aircraft license that prevents your pigeon from flying without attaining. This is also smart.

This article was first published in al-Hayat on April 1, 2013.

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Dr. Badria al-Bishr is a multi-award-winning Saudi columnist and novelist. A PhD graduate from the American University of Beirut, and an alumnus of the U.S. State Department International Visitor program. Her columns put emphasis on women and social issues in Saudi Arabia. She currently lectures at King Saud University's Department of Social Studies.

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