Sep 20, 2017

Saudi Arabia to lift ban on internet calls

Saudi Arabia is lifting a ban on voice and video calling apps such as WhatsApp and Skype, in a move aimed at boosting productivity and economic growth. Saudi officials accused the Qatar-based network of being a "Harmful, propaganda-pushing channel that supports extremism". Saudi Arabia blocked access to Al Jazeera's website at the end of May, shortly before the country severed all links with Qatar over the emirate's alleged support for terrorism and ties with Iran. Surveillance and censorship of the internet in Saudi Arabia intensified after the so-called Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, and the authorities have previously claimed to be using IP address-blocking to prevent citizens accessing 400,000 websites. The ministry of communications said the decision to now give Saudis access to VoIP was "An important step in the kingdom's internet regulation" that would "Reduce operational costs and spur digital entrepreneurship".

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