Saudi Kingdom threatens to ban messaging apps
Saudi Arabia, a country with very conservative regulations on communication, has recently banned Viber, a popular messaging application or app on mobile phones and is reportedly scheduled to bar Skype and Whatsapp, much larger messaging services.
According to a report of online news portal The Verge, “companies face a choice: wiretap their users or risk a ban.” This refers to Saudi Arabia’s insistence on ‘monitoring’ messages that are transmitted and received through these applications.
Overseas Filipino Workers [OFWs] will be hit hard since many of them use these apps to connect to family members and friends outside Saudi Arabia. The oil kingdom is the prime destination of more than a million Filipinos looking for overseas jobs.
Saudi Arabia similarly threatened Blackberry makers Research in Motion [RIM] several years ago. RIM complied by allowing Saudi authorities ‘monitor’ messages exchanged through its Blackberry Messenger application, supposedly to deter terrorist plots.
Critics however said that authorities, which implement a very tight segregation of men and women in public, only want to monitor mingling of opposite sex online.