Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saudi Arabia Skype Ban

In a recent move Saudi Arabia has threatened to ban Skype, Viber, and WhatsApp due to their strong encryption. Saudi Arabia's Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) wants the developers of the applications to provide a means for monitoring communications or they have threatened to block access in their country. A similar issue happened in 2010 when the CITC banned BlackBerry services due to the company's use of encryption. Saudi human rights groups are already protesting the proposed ban saying it violates the Arab Charter on Human Rights. Personally I agree that this is a worrisome move by the Saudi government. Services like Skype were utilized in the Arab Spring to organize resistance movements. If the Saudi government seeks to monitor communications or to ban them, it may be because they have similar fears. The official reason the government says it doesn't want encrypted communications is it makes it harder to combat terrorism. This draws parallels to the Patriot Act of 2002 which also increased government monitoring in the name of security and fighting terrorism. While different circumstances led to the rise of each piece of legislation, both I believe are intruding onto human rights.

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