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.

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Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Anonymous Howard (profile), Jun 27th, 2013 @ 12:05am

    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

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2013 @ 12:40am

    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.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment_in_Saudi_Arabia
    http://au.ibtimes.com/ar ticles/469801/20130522/saudi-arabia-execution-5-yemenis-yemen-firing.htm
    https://www.amnesty.org/en /news/saudi-arabia-five-beheaded-and-crucified-amid-disturbing-rise-executions-2013-05-21

    Quote:
    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.


    http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-saudi-arabia

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2013 @ 12:41am

    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.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2013 @ 12:45am

    Apostasy is a capital offense in Saudi Arabia.

    Why western governments accept those things and never talk about it?

    Oil and OPEC that is why.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2013 @ 3:30am

    As long as the Al Sauds keep the oil flowing, there will be no protest from the democratic west.

     

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  6.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jun 27th, 2013 @ 4:06am

    The US/UK and most "western" nations have long lost any moral high grounds. They managed to keep running the hypocrisy for a while because their censorship happy behavior wasn't officially exposed before. Now they have to keep their mouths shut.

     

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  7.  
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    afn29129 (profile), Jun 27th, 2013 @ 5:57am

    Monkey see monkey do.

    Our own 'democratic' government is on the record as being against the people have secure and private telecommunication.
    See: Clipper Chip. So it's no surprise at all that the US is "strangely silent." It's a case of monkey see money do.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2013 @ 6:03am

    Re:

    The Terropist West, more like.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2013 @ 7:23am

    what is strange about it? they are doing/going to do the same thing!

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2013 @ 7:27am

    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!

     

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  11.  
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    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Jun 27th, 2013 @ 8:58am

    The law of unintended (bot forseeable) consequences.

    How often our "leaders" forget this law...

     

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  12.  
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    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Jun 27th, 2013 @ 9:02am

    Re: The law of unintended (bot forseeable) consequences.

    Forgot the quote: "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."

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2013 @ 12:13pm

    US does not protest Saudi eavesdropping on encrypted communications?

    Umm, that is because our government is doing it, too, but they are tired of being revealed as hypocrites so they are just staying silent.

     

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  14.  
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    Lleuad Ci (profile), Jun 27th, 2013 @ 11:11pm

    Silence is compliance

    If Viber gets fingered but Skype et al don't then that tells you all you need to know about backdoors.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    small business phone, Sep 24th, 2013 @ 2:20am

    Silence

    How this country will cope up with the latest trends in communication technology if they are implementing this kind of ban for this phone system apps like Skype and Viber?

     

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  16.  
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    Mrhobbes (profile), Nov 28th, 2013 @ 3:29am

    No Issues

    I don't think its something we need to be seriously concern of. Moreover I agree with few comments which are on top, What is so strange about it??

    Anyways, if you feel that you need cheaper alternative to make Saudi Arabia to India calls at lowest price. Check our website.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    hanalori, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 11:33pm

    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.

    http://goo.gl/aitxHJ

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    juliajuff, Jan 8th, 2014 @ 4:55am

    jobs in saudi arabia

    MySaudijobs Fast and simple registration for Saudi Jobs- Upload your CV and start the quest for your ideal position immediately! Register rapidly on the site that is 100% free for jobseekers. You may also improve your particulars anytime before using online to the jobs in Saudi Arabia.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    juliajuff, Jan 8th, 2014 @ 4:55am

    jobs in saudi arabia

    MySaudijobs Fast and simple registration for Saudi Jobs- Upload your CV and start the quest for your ideal position immediately! Register rapidly on the site that is 100% free for jobseekers. You may also improve your particulars anytime before using online to the jobs in Saudi Arabia.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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