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Saudi Arabia beheads Skype, Viber and WhatsApp

Three months ago the Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) of Saudi Arab has vowed to ban all VoIP applications that bypass networks. Now the regulator has lowered its axe on applications like Skype, Viber and WhatsApp. As a result, the oil rich Kingdom’s vast population of foreign workers will have to count huge cost of calling home.

The regulator issued a vaguely worded directive in March warning that such tools as Viber, Whatsapp and Skype broke local laws, without specifying how. CITC did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday or when the earlier announcement was made in March.

Conventional international calls and texts are a lucrative earner for telecom operators in Saudi Arabia, which hosts around nine million expatriates. These foreign workers are increasingly using Internet-based applications such as Viber to communicate with relatives in other countries, analysts say.

It may be noted that Saudi Arab is one of the leading supporters of the ITU’s new ITR, that promotes governmental control over Internet. Reuters reports.

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