Saudi Arabia confirms Skype to be censored

Saudi Arabia’s watchdog has claimed that Skype and Whatsapp flout Saudi Arabia’s telecom laws.

The kingdom’s Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has ordered telecom operators that use these services to quickly ensure they comply.

Unlike western countries were such warnings are usually bogged down in lots of legal cases, in Saudi justice is swift with bits of a company being lopped off in a public square in front of a cheering crowd.

Skype received a warning last week when the local press claimed the government had asked telecom companies to look at ways to monitor or block these services.

CITC said in a statement on its website that it had become evident that some communication applications through the Internet don’t meet regulatory requirements.

Basically, if Skype cannot conform to Saudi laws then things will look grim for the service in the kingdom.

In a typically Kafkaesque move, neither the CITC nor the Saudi government have said what law has been broken.  While it is likely to be something involving censorship, it is up to Skype to confess and conform.  The government or the CITC did not say how long Skype had to fix the situation either or which body part will be lopped off if they don’t do it.

The CITC said it was acting to “protect society from any negative aspects that could harm the public interest”.

Saudi is making a greater push for greater control over cyberspace as internet and smartphone usage soars.  It is worried that people might mix and talk.  This of course is a dangerous thing for a monarchy.  If subjects start communicating they might become informed and start to wonder what the hell they are doing with their lives and why they are ruled by people who only got the job by shagging.

Over the weekend the English-language Arab News Daily said Saudi Arabia may try to end anonymity for Twitter users in the country by limiting access to the site to people who register their IDs.