Saudi Arabia might pull the plug on a number of popular messenger applications such as Viber, Skype and WhatsApp. The trouble with instant messaging apps is that they can’t be censored and that’s not what the House of Saud likes to hear.
According to Saudi news site Sabq, the country’s Communications and Information Technology Commission is working with application developers on the question. We are not entirely convinced that the Saudi request to open up the apps to censorship will go down well with developers, especially Viber, which was created by an American-Israeli entrepreneur.
The move is hardly surprising, as the Wahhabi kingdom already targeted BlackBerry a few years ago, when it was concerned its messaging service could be used by dissidents, or, God forbid, women talking about lace undergarments. In the meantime BlackBerry chose to shoot itself in the foot and die a slow death, but iOS and Android apps have taken its place.
When they banned BlackBerry messaging, the Saudis claimed they were concerned about the encrypted nature of communications, which hindered the country’s ability to fight terrorism and crime. Then again we are talking about a country that still sentences people to death for witchcraft.