Thursday, 28 March 2013

[] "Saudi human rights- rejected a plan to monitor- Skype, Viber and WhatsApp"


Rights groups reject CITC monitoring

Saudi human rights groups have rejected a plan by the country's telecommunications authority to monitor the popular Internet communications applications Skype, Viber and WhatsApp. They say the proposed measure contravenes an Arab human rights convention signed by the Saudi government.
The reaction from the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) and the Saudi Human Rights Association (SHRA) comes after the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) earlier this week ordered local operators to install monitoring servers. If monitoring servers are not installed, the free services may be blocked, the CITC had warned.
"This is a breach of the ninth article of the Saudi communication system which stipulates the secrecy of data and information of any phone calls that a person makes," Saleh Al-Khathlan, spokesman of the NSHR, was quoted as saying in a local newspaper.
Media officer at the SHRA, Muhammad Al-Muadi, said the association is taking the side of citizens. "(The SHRA) is in the process of discussing the issues with the CITC concerning the motives for such a measure."
"The CITC does not have the power to deal with this matter. It does not have jurisdiction over the control of communication and information," said Al-Khathlan.
He said the measure contravenes the Arab Charter on Human Rights that the Kingdom has signed. "If there is any threat (posed by) these applications, the CITC should cooperate with the service providers to find solutions for users, voluntary ones, not obligatory ones, such as firewalls," he said.
Al-Muadi said that the issue would be discussed further with the CITC. "These means of communication is for the benefit of each household, linking family members inside and outside the Kingdom. They are international means of communication."
Arab News reported earlier this week that expatriates and citizens were concerned about the implications of the monitoring and possible blocking of the services.
Expatriates polled said these applications were cheap and essential tools to keep in contact with loved ones back home.
A Saudi citizen raised privacy issues by asking whether the female members of his family have to remain veiled once Skype is monitored.

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