Manama: Saudi Arabia could roll out a ban on the use of smartphone messenger WhatsApp, voice-over-IP telephony service Skype and other instant messaging applications.

“The Communications and Information Technology Commission has requested companies operating the applications to meet the regulatory requirements to avoid their suspension in the kingdom,” sources told Saudi news site Sabq.

“The commission is now coordinating with the application operators on the issue. The decision is similar to the one taken years ago towards the use of BlackBerry phones amid concerns about encrypted communications,” the sources that were not identified said, Sabq reported on Sunday.

The sources denied claims that attributed the decision to commercial motivations, stressing that it was “in accordance with regulatory procedures”.

Saudi Arabia in 2010 banned the use of BlackBerry phones to send and receive messages, citing concerns that the communications via this were encrypted and could not be monitored and consequently hindered the country’s efforts to fight terrorism and crime.