Viber sidesteps Saudi regulator ban
Saudis claim access to comms platform, despite CITC prohibition
Makers of the smartphone app Viber, which allows users to send free text messages and photos, appear to have outsmarted Saudi Arabian telecommunications authorities six months after the app was blocked from operating in the kingdom.
Saudi residents claim they have been able to re-download Viber onto their phones in recent days.
Viber said in June that it was "working on a fix that will allow users in Saudi Arabia to connect to Viber". The company has not commented on reports that it has successfully broken through the block.
The kingdom's telecom regulator Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) warned Viber was still banned in the country and it was working to ensure the block was re-imposed.
"There may be some illegal way to get around the ban, but the commission is dealing with that," CITC spokesman Sultan Al Malek told AFP. "The CITC has not lifted the ban, as the company has not complied with the requirements of the commission".
The commission warned in March it would ban Viber, WhatsApp and Skype unless the programs provided a mechanism to allow authorities to censor some content, although it is also recognised that allowing such programs would affect the state-owned telecommunications provider.
Viber was eventually the only program banned. It is also banned in the UAE.