CITC Denies Blocking WhatsApp and Skype

For the second time in less than two weeks, Saudi Arabia’s Communication and Information Technology (CITC) had to deny media reports that it was going to block messaging apps like WhatsApp and Skype.

Financial daily al-Eqtisadiah reported on Thursday that the newspaper has learned from “reliable sources” that Saudi authorities will announce today their decision to block the popular messaging apps.

“Sources indicated that Saudi Arabia is about to block WhatsApp and Skype, especially that telecom providers in the country waiting for the decision are ready to impose the blockage immediately,” the newspaper said.

However, CITC used its Twitter account to deny the story in the newspaper. “CITC emphasizes this report is incorrect,” the regulator said.

Al-Eqtisadiah said the regulator has held negotiations with the makers of WhatsApp in California, but the US-based company has refused requests by CITC to meet its conditions and requirements.

Last month CITC blocked Viber, another instant messaging app, saying it has failed to meet the regulatory requirements of Saudi Arabia, adding that other apps like WhatsApp and Skype are being put under review and could be blocked soon.

WhatsApp, often dubbed the “granddaddy of messaging apps,” is said to be extremely popular in Saudi Arabia. If the government decided to block it, such decision could result in a wide backlash.

Photo courtesy of Javier Domínguez Ferreiro via Flickr