What if Saudi Arabia Blocks Skype and other VOIP Applications?

Communications Monitoring (3)




The Saudi Communications and Technology Commission has proposed that messaging applications such as SKYPE, WhatsApp and Viber be banned in Saudi Arabia because the Kingdom can’t control these applications.  This decision is based primarily on censorship and control.  The Commission has no control on what Saudi’s are saying using these VOIP applications as well as minimal to no control on how Saudis are using social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

In order for these services to remain available in Saudi Arabia, telecommunication and data carriers would have to make modifications in order to specifically allow monitoring.

Saudi’s Minister of Media and Culture, Abdel Aziz Khoga,  told Saudi’s Al-Watan newspaper that the Saudi people “have to take care of what they are writing on Twitter.”  Khoga further stated, “It is getting harder to observe around three million people subscribing to the social network in the kingdom.”

Saudi writer, Turki Al-Hamad, continues to be detained on charges that he insulted Islam on his Twitter account.  In addition, online activist, Raif Badawi, was arrested last June in Jeddah on charges of online apostasy.

While the Saudi government seems to be fearful of the freedom of expression applications such as Twitter, Skype, WhatsApp and Viper offer, these applications have helped facilitate business in the Kingdom.

For example, many Saudi companies and organizations are using Skype for job interviews of applicants who are not in the local area.  Many Saudi students have had interviews with Universities outside of the Kingdom over Skype.  On the personal side, Skype is an application which allows both Saudis and expatriates to keep in touch with their families regardless of location.  It would be a huge disservice for the Saudi government to shut down VOIP applications.  Yet, it then begs the question, should the telecommunication or data organizations modify their own network configurations in order to allow monitoring by the Saudi government?


15 Responses

  1. Not really a matter of censorship, rather of security . Gmail for example is really impossible to catch, due to its SSL system . So it would be reasonable to make an agreement, same as Weissman is asking in America . Over there should be difficult cause of privacy laws, but in Saudi they may meet in the middle .

  2. No doubt Skype and all other VoIP are a lot helpful in everyday life. Yet sadly Facebook and twitter are like just made for insulting Islam. I can state this from my own experience that Islam is not afraid or muslims are not scared of any criticism or honest questions about Islam. The big fat lies and bully, i think religion or no religion, no one allowed it. And thats what is happening on Facebook and twitter about Islam, only and only big fat lies selling out.
    I got answers to many of my own questions in discussions about Islam, one doesn’t want to believe, everyone has the right to choose. Yet not any logic or any one has rights to spread lies about Islam.

  3. “Yet, it then begs the question, should the telecommunication or data organizations modify their own network configurations in order to allow monitoring by the Saudi government?”

    HELL NO!!!

  4. Salam Saima,

    Before you shoot your mouth off, ponder the meaning of this:

    The moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism and satire and derision or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible — Salman Rushdie

  5. Saima, what if one person’s lies is another person’s truth? When you (or Muslims) claim the Bible has been changed so Christians believe something not true (i.e., a lie) how is this statement NOT offensive to many many Christians who believe their holy book IS true? Should we ban you from making those claims even if most Muslims believe this to be true? Let people have freedom to believe what they want and stop censoring everyone. It’s fine that we don’t agree … no need to ban people from talking.

  6. Twitter and Facebook were created to insult and spread lies about Islam? Really?

    I do love how Muslims seem to sincerely believe they are and Islam is the number one persecuted entity in the world…conveniently forgetting that where Muslims and Islam rule…bad things happen to those who would show dissent, disagreement, or out right rebellion towards it.

    If your religion and beliefs are true and worth following…why fear those voices that work to discredit it? You have god on your side…shouldn’t that be quite enough defense? No need for banning, blocking, or violence in defense of The Last True Message. Right?

  7. The sad thing is censorship is necessary for some governments to exist. In todays world the definition of revolution is the government is not meeting the needs of the people has come to pass all over the planet.

  8. Our Creator gave us the gift of freedom. It is up to us to make wise use of it. We should worry more about creating Good than controlling others.

  9. Censorship is never necessary. Every being should be their own conscience. Many families stay in touch via Skype.
    People have as much right to give whatever opinions they have about Islam or cats or Christianity or Santa Claus for that matter and trust me … if KSA starts censoring Skype, etc. people will just find another way.

  10. I guess those of you who want censorship do not consider yourselves wise enough or strong enough or mature enough to be able to censor things in your own minds?

  11. Saima, honey, it is people like you who make us Muslims look bad.

    Stop it, girl.

  12. Daliah,

    Well said! Thank you for saying what was exactly on mind.

    Izzat Begov
    Chechnya, RU

  13. It would be a mistake for KSA to ban Skype use, especially when there is a huge expatriate community in KSA that works in the country. The need to be in touch with family and good friends is important, given the work conditions for some of them.

    OR just living in a foreign country.

    Would agree that the conduct of business is particularily useful also.

    Yes, there is bad stuff, but the good stuff probably outweighs the good.And we are talking about mental health, keeping it good, by making productive connections with acquaintances and loved ones.

  14. i am an expat myself, is it true that saudi arabia has set hourly charges on skype, viber, whatsapp, whatsoever? because my co-worker tells me that our friend who was forced to pay for using skype (this is before he was leaving saudi arabia). i do not know what were the numbers that he was obliged to pay for before going out of the country, but still he was charged of using this program . i myself use this application everyday to chat with my friends and family in the united states and england (just for video chat) but i was alarmed to find out that there was even a charge for video chat?!? i mean i know there is a charge when you use skype for calling overseas but you are aware of the prices that are shown which is clearly shown to you because it is what they offer. but to video chat– they say that when you are going to leave this country, you are going to be informed of the charges. have you heard of this even being true?

  15. i want to go america .my place of brith kuwait 00923004347294

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