Viber boss vows to restore Saudi service

Free communications app was last week banned by Gulf kingdom's telco watchdog

Tags: Communications and Information Technology CommissionSaudi ArabiaViber (www.viber.com)
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Viber boss vows to restore Saudi service Viber is to release patches for its software to allow the circumventing of CITC’s blockage.
By  Daniel Shane Published  June 11, 2013

The head of Viber, the Web-based communications application that was last week banned in Saudi Arabia, has vowed to get the service up and running in the kingdom once again.

The Gulf country's Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) on Wednesday said that Viber had been outlawed for failing to comply with telecoms regulations.

The service allows subscribers to make free phone calls, send instant messages and share files, but is seen as difficult for governments to monitor, while also eroding margins of state-backed operators.

"We will not rest until the service has been restored in Saudi Arabia," Viber's CEO Talmon Marco told Arab News. "We are developing technology that will circumvent this block. It will be rolled out in phases. We hope to have the first step in a couple of weeks."

Marco added that the company had not been given prior warning of the ban and that the kingdom's telecoms operators had been seeking access to Viber's network.

"The CITC did not communicate directly with us, but some of the mobile operators in Saudi Arabia were trying to obtain additional data about the inner workings of the Viber network," he added.

"We believe their objective was to try and find ways to obtain the contents of messages and calls on Viber. We did not provide this information, even though a better understanding of the Viber network wouldn't have helped them."

The CITC also warned that it would take "appropriate action" against makers of communications applications such as Skype and WhatsApp if they failed to comply with Saudi Arabia's regulatory requirements on telecommunications.

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