Saudi Arabia Starts Clamping Down On Encrypted VoIP Services; US And UK Strangely Silent On The Moves

from the awkward dept

Earlier this month, the messaging service Viber was blocked in Saudi Arabia. This was not entirely unexpected, since the authorities had been trying to come to grips with the service and its ability to encrypt messages for a while according to Viber’s founder, as a BBC News report explains:

Mr Marco told the BBC that Saudi internet service providers and mobile operators started asking for information about the internal workings of the service a couple of months ago.

“We assumed that the reason they wanted it was to try to figure out ways to tap into our conversations, listen to what our users are saying, read messages,” he said.

Back in March of this year, another BBC story noted that two other encrypted messaging services — Skype and WhatsApp — were also being told to make it possible for the authorities to eavesdrop on communications. In the wake of the Viber ban, there are now concerns that WhatsApp, Skype and the Tango messaging service may fall afoul of the Saudi authorities’ desire to bring these new technologies under control.

A few weeks ago, this clear attempt to ensure that citizens in Saudi Arabia could be routinely spied upon when using popular new communication services would doubtless have prompted denunciations from Western countries of these clear threats to privacy and personal freedom. But in the light of the revelations about the large-scale snooping being carried out by the NSA in the US and GCHQ in the UK, that is hardly an option. This shows once more how increasing surveillance in the West gives those in other parts of the world a free pass to do the same.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or, and on Google+

Filed Under: , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Saudi Arabia Starts Clamping Down On Encrypted VoIP Services; US And UK Strangely Silent On The Moves”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Howard (profile) says:

would doubtless have prompted denunciations from Western countries

Good. They saved themselves more hypocrisy.

two other encrypted messaging services — Skype and WhatsApp — were also being told to make it possible for the authorities to eavesdrop on communications

What? Don’t they already support it? Free cash with no work, if you ask me.

They probably worried that it’ll used to oppress the People of Saudi Arabia. /s

Anonymous Coward says:

Saudi Arabia never need any excuses to do that, they actually pretty much did it for the last 30 years and nobody says because the King just ignores others he can and he do utilize the force of the OPEC to his advantage.

Saudi Arabia and some other Middle Eastern countries are the dirty that nobody wants to touch.

They still have some very gruesome public punishments in place.

Human rights are almost nonexistent in the Saudi fiefdom so it is no surprises there.


Criminal Justice and Torture

Detainees, including children, commonly face systematic violations of due process and fair trial rights, including arbitrary arrest and torture and ill-treatment in detention. Saudi judges routinely sentence defendants to thousands of lashes.

Judges can order arrest and detention, including of children, at their discretion. Children can be tried and sentenced as adults if physical signs of puberty exist. The Interior Ministry said it had executed Bandar al-Luhaibi, a child, in October for killing his grandmother.

Authorities rarely inform suspects of the crime with which they are charged, or of supporting evidence. Saudi Arabia has no penal code, so prosecutors and judges largely define criminal offenses at their discretion. Lawyers do not assist suspects during interrogation and face difficulty examining witnesses or presenting evidence at trial.

Anonymous Coward says:

Are you kidding? Saudis are allies and allies can do no wrong. The only difference between radical elements trying to destabilize political situation and overthrow lawfully elected regime and pro-democracy forces fighting for their freedom against the oppressive regime is whether US is in bed with said regime.
No one would say anything even if there wasn’t any ongoing domestic scandal – thou shan’t offend the people who control the oil pipe and are friendly. Not friendly people with an oil pipe get bombed into the stone age though.

Anonymous Coward says:

it also shows that those western countries who are already doing it are not going to decry others now, but encourage the practice as much as possible. perhaps the whole episode is to stop the people from finding out how their own governments are ripping them off and how their own governments are being paid by big corporations to give them personalized laws!

hanalori (user link) says:

About Voip Calls

IPtradex is a VoIP Minutes Provider,with fast online registration.IPtradeX gives the members the ability to buy & sell VoIP termination at best rates.This means simple and low pricing, and no hidden or recurring fees.Our aim is to ensure that our clients receive maximum benefit both operationally and financially.we offers 3 different routes PLATINUM, PREMIUM, STANDARD & TELCO Direct Routes.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...