Saudi Communications Commission activates Internet calls, WhatsApp still blocked

Author: Arab NewsThu, 2017-09-21 14:29ID: 1505982569918926000JEDDAH: The Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has announced the lifting of the ban on all applications that provide voice and video call services over the Internet.
Applications that meet regulatory requirements in the Kingdom can again offer Internet phone calls – known as Voice Over Internet Protocol – starting September 21.
Adel Abu Heemed, the CITC spokesman, said that applications including FaceTime, Snapchat, Skype, Line, Telegram, Tango would be available to all users who are subscribed to the Kingdom’s telecommunications services.
Abu Hemeed said, in a series of messages over Twitter, that the commission has lifted the ban on applications that met the requirements “without the need to provide specific packages.”
He detailed the list of regulatory requirements imposed on the applications, including the removal of content that violate the Kingdom’s regulations as well cooperation with the CITC in cases of emergencies.
“Regulatory requirements include: clarity of mechanism taken by those application providers in handling personal data of users in the Kingdom.”
The decision to lift the ban, Abu Heemed said, comes in line with the recent trends in the CIT sector and that the reliance on data revenues and additional services is the global trend that operators in the Kingdom should take.
He added that the authority is working with all stakeholders to provide all the telecom subscribers in the Kingdom with the finest services that meet their aspirations and satisfy their needs.
Meanwhile, WhatsApp and Viber users have aired their concerns regarding the exclusion of the apps’ calling features from the list.
“What are the requirements WhatsApp failed to meet?” One Twitter user wondered. “May we know why you didn’t unblock WhatsApp?
80% of the people use WhatsApp and this service allows us to contact our families more given that we live apart.”
Abu Heemed said that the list of regulatory requirements was subject to changes based on the changing course of events.
“Whenever an update comes to being, and we in the commission find it in the users interest, we impose that requirements,” he said in a television interview on Wednesday.
He warned users from using other applications to unblock the calling feature, which prejudices the user’s personal data.
Main category: Saudi ArabiaTags: WhatsAppfacetimevibertangoCITCrelated_nodes: WhatsApp video, voice calling service available in the UAE

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