Messaging and Video talking services like Skype, Viber and Whatsapp have become extremely popular recently with the increased use of smartphones all around the globe. With these applications, users can easily communicate with each other, irrespective of distance. However, these messaging applications have been the center of controversy in various countries. Now, it seems that Saudi Arabia is no exception. Recently, the controversy of government control over these messaging services had reduced since services like Skype and others were sought by India several years ago. However, the issue has resurfaced again in Saudi Arabia. The government of Saudi Arabia is demanding censorship rights to various messaging applications, including Viber, Skype and Whatsapp.

The government is threatening to ban these messaging services in the country and doing so will mean that similar action will be taken in the regions near the country. The industry sources have said that authorities in the kingdom are asking operators to allow them to censor the applications. An official of the Communications and Information Technology Commission of Saudi Arabia said that local telecommunication providers had been told to ask the operators of these messaging services to give them controls of censorship. Incumbent operator Saudi Telecommunication stated that the telecommunication providers had been given a deadline till Saturday.

If the providers failed to comply with the service, it would mean a ban of the said services. However, the operators of the country were themselves accused by the critics who claimed that they were behind this move because these over the top messaging applications caused a lot of damage to their revenues. Amongst these operators, prominent names like STC, Zain and Mobily are also included. It is the opinion of a Saudi blogger that these mobile operators will be risking the wrath of customers because they use Skype heavily for keeping in touch with friends and family.

The operators are attempting to reduce the losses of revenues they are suffering in texts and voice messaging. In other neighboring countries such as United Arab Emirates, the messaging applications such as Viber and Skype have already been blocked by the government. Nevertheless, the messaging application such as Whatsapp remains unblocked in the country. In 2010, it had been threatened by both countries that they would block the instant messaging service that was part of BlackBerry mobile phones and censoring the service was ordered by them to local telecommunication providers.

This same request of furnishing control over these services had been made in Indonesia, India and other countries as well. Nonetheless, the BlackBerry instant messaging service is still available in all these countries even though it remains unclear as to what concessions were made by the Canadian company to ensure it. The fate of the free of charge and popular messaging applications like Skype and Viber remain unknown for now in Saudi Arabia. If operators do not give censorship controls to the telecommunication providers, the services might as well be banned and customers will be terribly inconvenienced by this act.

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