The Kingdom’s Communications and Information Technology Commission also stated that “action will be taken against other applications or services that do not comply with regulations.”
Skype, WhatsApp and Viber all received a warning from the Saudi government in March demanding that the services provide a local server in order to observe user activity. All three were given a week to comply and now that more than two months has passed with no apparent action, the Saudi government has pulled the plug on Viber.
Since Viber is the smallest of the three services involved, it is certainly a warning to the other two, where a disruption of service would have a far greater impact. There is speculation that this may also be the result of pressure being applied by Saudi Arabia’s telephone and wireless carriers, who lose money when services like this are in place.
These types of services have come under scrutiny before, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had BlackBerry under their thumbs a few years ago over BlackBerry Messenger. Eventually the company formerly known as Research in Motion accommodated the two countries, but the details of those agreements were never disclosed.