There are no “political” or “security” reasons behind banning the WhatsApp smartphone application, Saudi Arabia’s Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) reported to the media.
The Kingdom stated that in fact, the California-based application refused to comply with the regulator’s request, which led to the suspension of the application.
Earlier in June, Saudi Arabia shut down internet messenger application Viber for the same reasons. The authorities later warned that “appropriate action will be taken against other applications or services that do not comply with regulations,” without saying how rules were being violated in the country.
The CITC announced in March that it was reviewing a number of internet-based free communications applications, including Skype, Viber and WhatsApp, among others.
It had told service providers to work with the developers of such applications to “quickly meet the regulatory conditions.”
Authorities had asked local telecom operators to initiate a means of control to censor activity on the smartphone applications in the country.
The ultra-conservative kingdom has been pushing for more censorship and control over cyberspace usage since 2010.
In 2010, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia threatened to ban BlackBerry’s instant messaging service BBM, and demanded that the company install local servers to censor the service.
In the UAE, most applications like Skype and Viber calls are blocked, but WhatsApp messenger application remains accessible.
Instant messaging services on the BlackBerry smartphone however remain uninterrupted in Saudi Arabia.
Sultan Al-Malik, official spokesperson of CITC stated that once the suspension takes place, an official statement will be announced on the commission’s website detailing reasons behind the ban.