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Sunday 19 November 2017

Saudi Arabia threatens to ban Skype

Bonnie Malkin

Officials in Saudi Arabia have threatened to ban messaging services such as Skype unless the telecoms companies that own them allow conversations to be monitored by the government.

The kingdom has given service providers one week to give the government a means of monitoring the applications Skype, Viber and WhatsApp, or they will be shut down, according to the BBC.


It is expected that the telecoms companies will give in to the demand, despite anger among the community over the move.


Skype, the video call service, and Viber, which gives users free phone calls and text messages, are already banned in the United Arab Emirates.


The move to monitor the sites by the government in Saudi Arabia comes amid an explosion in social media use in the country. Saudi Arabia has the highest take up of Twitter in the world, and also one of the most conservative governments.


Last week, Grand Mufti Sheik Abdul-Aziz Al-Sheik, one of Saudi Arabia's religious leaders dismissed the micro-blogging site as "a council for jokesters" and a forum for unjust, incorrect communication.


In 2010 the conservative government threatened to ban BlackBerrys, claiming that the messenger service could be exploited by terrorists. The ban was averted, but it is not known what concessions the company may have made to keep operating.

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