Saudi Arabia


There was a big kerfuffle about China banning Whatsapp. But when Saudi Arabia did the “beheading” in 2013, much less outrage. Oh well. It helps when you have driven expectation down to the negative range. But anyway, they seem to have figured that there’s a downside in not having these services.
Many Americans would have been surprised that Jakarta was the largest contributor of tweets, a city. I was not. It is a large city (10 million), phones with QWERTY interfaces are all the rage, and Bahasa Indonesia uses the Roman characters. What surprised me was Riyadh. It is not an extraordinarily large city (4.
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.
The Saudi regulator is pressuring operators to crack down on Skype and similar OTT applications. It affects both Saudis and the many expatriate workers who live there. This will require deep packet inspection and some serious interventions in the data streams. Saudi students on scholarships who use the Skype video application to contact their parents are also disappointed. “I really don’t understand what they mean by monitoring.
After some time, we at LIRNEasia are beginning to engage again with e gov, which I like to say is an acronym for effective government. So I came across this new service provided by the government of Saudi Arabia where male guardians are sent an SMS by the govt when their wives leave the country. Earlier, it had been necessary for permanently dependent females (i.e., all females) to carry with them a “yellow clip” wherein the guardian had consented to their departure.
Last year as many as 190m migrant workers sent cash home, according to the World Bank. These remittances amounted to US$337 billion, of which US$251 billion went to developing countries. But the cost of sending hard-earned cash depends on both the source and destination. On average, sending US$500 from Spain to Brazil will incur a modest charge of US$7.68, or a 1.
The Economist is not correct saying ‘No Evidence’ of Internet blocking in Sri Lanka, and in Laos and Cambodia the Internet usage is low so blocking does not make any difference. As shown, even in Asia the attitude of officialdom varies when it comes to filtering content of a social nature. In many places agreements are set with service providers to block nasty stuff such as child pornography. In a few countries intervention is stronger, up to the level of pervasive censorship. This week Pakistan’s block on YouTube accidentally caused an international outage for that website.
LIRNEasia’s maiden telecom reform course was successfully completed by 36 participants from 18 countries. The 10th telecom reform course was co-organised with LIRNE.NET, in association with the School of Communication and Information of Nanyang Technological University, and the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore. Themed ‘Catalyzing change:  Strategies to achieve connectivity and convergence,’ the course took place at the Elizabeth Hotel in Singapore on the 24th-30th September 2005. see pics The course aimed to prepare regulators to face the challenges that lie ahead to achieve connectivity and convergence.