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While content that undermines the authority of the Saudi ruling family has always been restricted, the government has become increasingly sensitive to online dissidence, fearing it could incite uprisings the likes of those in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, and neighboring Bahrain.“I don’t think the ban is going to happen, but if it goes ahead, then the users will find other programs,” said Ismail Patel, a GCC research analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.
“It’s more that the government is flexing its muscles and showing that they’ve got their eyes of the country.”It has yet to be seen whether Saudi Arabia will carry out the proposed bans or—as some local reports suggested—whether the companies themselves would strike a deal with the government.
Other reports include the scammer manipulating the images taken, to make them seem worse.
Reporters Without Borders lists Saudi Arabia as an “Enemy of the Internet,” saying last year that “its rigid opposition to the simmering unrest on the Web caused it to tighten its Internet stranglehold even more to stifle all political and social protests.”In the Middle East, three taboos have traditionally drawn the greatest level of censorship: religion, sex, and politics.It was accurate and up to date at the time of publishing.This information is general information only and is intended for use by private individuals and small to medium sized businesses.Users of video services, such as Skype, should be aware of a variety of scams that may use footage and images captured without your knowledge, to blackmail you.In one version, the scam originates from a dating website or social network site like Facebook.While Saudi Arabia is infamous for taking authoritarian measures to crack down on perceived security threats, it has increasingly shifted its attention toward the telecommunications sector in recent months.The CITC announced in September that all pre-paid SIM card users must enter a personal identification number when recharging their accounts and the number must match the one registered with their mobile operator when the SIM is purchased.Like several other Arab countries, Saudi Arabia has long implemented a ban on pornography and films or websites that show sex or nudity.It blocks content that is insulting to Islam, threatening to ban You Tube last year for carrying Innocence of Muslims, the low-budget film that sparked violent protests across the Muslim world for its insulting portrayal of the Prophet Muhammed.“We know they want to use our software, and we want to help them.”Other Gulf nations including Oman and Kuwait block Skype, although residents have found ways to easily get around the bans via proxy servers. However, some suggest that stricter regulations could result in greater losses—Saudi telcos citing potential revenue losses of up to 20 percent following the new SIM card regulations.“Revenue is a concern for operators,” said Patel.In the United Arab Emirates, the business hub of the Arab Gulf where foreigners make up some 80 percent of the population, a longtime ban on Skype was eased only in recent weeks. “They can’t beat the tidal wave coming from the side of content so the only thing that the operators can do now is to try to entertain some kind of partnership with these companies.”In Saudi Arabia—where 60 percent of the population is younger than age 30—youth rely heavily on web-based communications tools like Whatsapp and Blackberry Messenger to circumvent restrictions against the public intermixing of men and women.