‘Just an Inconvenience’

Eman al-Nafjan on the blocking of Viber:

In the long term it doesn’t really matter how many applications are blocked or what reason they’re blocked for. Early on, Saudi persistence and desperation has broken down all blocks.

Censorship does not work anymore. If people wanted access to something, they will find a way to get there.

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Viber Vows to Circumvent Saudi Block

Talmon Marco, founder and CEO of Viber Inc., told Arab News in an exclusive interview that his company will find a way to avoid Saudi Arabia blocking its messaging services.

“We will not rest until the service has been restored in Saudi Arabia,” Marco said.

He added: “We are developing technology that will circumvent this block. It will be rolled out in phases. We hope to have the first step in a couple of weeks.”

Saudi Arabia Blocks Viber

Saudi Arabia announced that it has blocked instant messaging app Viber. The Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC), the regulatory authority in the country, said the decision to block the app is a followup to their statement earlier this year that they will take “suitable measures” against apps that violate laws of the Kingdom.

“Viber app has been blocked starting on June 5, 2013, because it does not currently meet the regulatory requirements and laws in Saudi Arabia,” CITC said in statement published Wednesday on their website.

Local media reported in March that CITC asked mobile providers in the country to find ways to monitor encrypted messaging and VOIP apps like Viber, Skype and WhatsApp. If these apps could not be monitored then they will be blocked. CITC issued a statement later that month saying “it would take suitable measures against these apps and services” that fail to meet regulatory requirements in the country.

Announcing its decision to ban Viber, CITC reiterated their intention to take measures against other apps and services.

Viber is a cross-platform instant messaging VOIP application for smartphones and desktop computers developed by a Cyprus-based company founded by American-Israeli entrepreneur Talmon Marco. The company has offices in Israel and Belarus. Marco said last month that they have more than 200 million users world wide.