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Image credit: Faisal Nasser / Reuters

Saudi Arabia lifts ban on messaging apps like Skype and Snapchat

The ban had stood since 2013, but internet business is too potentially lucrative.
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Faisal Nasser / Reuters

Saudi Arabia will lift a ban on internet calls at 8PM ET today that had stood since 2013. Services that follow rules set by the country's Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) will be allowed to operate, according to a spokesman's statement and tweet (below).

In the CITC spokesman's words, the ban is being lifted to make way for more business over the internet:

This decision comes in line with the recent trends in the ICT sector; the reliance on data revenues (Internet delivery) and added services is the global trend that operators in the Kingdom should take. He added that the Authority is working with all stakeholders to provide all the telecom subscribers in the Kingdom of the finest services that meet their aspirations and satisfy their needs.

Saudi Arabia originally introduced the ban in 2013 out of wariness for services like WhatsApp and Skype, which have secure communications protocols that are difficult to externally monitor, according to Reuters. Lifting the ban will make it easier for people and businesses to operate, but it will also likely end up cutting into profits of the country's three telecoms (Saudi Telecom Co, Mobily and Zain) which were the only providers of international phone and data calls while the ban was in place.

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