Online communications platforms Skype and WhatsApp face being banned in Saudi Arabia if the Gulf kingdom’s government is not provided with services to monitor the technologies, according to a report in Arab News.
According to the English language newspaper, the country’s Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has threatened to block both applications, which both have millions of users around the world, as they use encrypted connections.
Skype, which is owned by Microsoft, allows users to communicate over video link, while WhatsApp is a free instant messaging service for smartphones such as Apple’s iPhone and BlackBerry.
Saudi Arabia banned the use of BlackBerry services in the kingdom in 2010 in similar circumstances, with the government claiming that the technology’s strong encryption meant hinder its efforts in fighting terrorism and criminal activity.
Arab News said that Skype and WhatsApp had until the end of this week to provide the CITC with the means to monitor communications via the platforms.
In neighbouring UAE, most Skype services are already prohibited by the country’s telecommunications regulator, in a policy that is widely seen as protecting the commercial interests of state-owned operators.
Representatives from Skype and WhatsApp could not be contacted for comments on the report at the time of publication.