back to article Cryptocat dev reckons WhatsApp is blocking calls to Saudi numbers

Lebanese-Canadian developer Nadim Kobeissi has taken aim at WhatsApp, accusing it of fudging about why calls to Saudi numbers don't work. In a long post at GitHub Gist, Kobeissi (best known for his work on secure chat app Cryptocat) says the blocks seem to be in WhatsApp, even though the company claims Saudi networks are …

  1. Scaffa

    VoIP is not ratified in most Middle East regions (Saudi Arabia, Qatar et al).

    It could either be revenue protection for traditional carriers, or *tinfoil hat on* they haven't got a way of intercepting / monitoring calls placed through VoIP services.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      True, but the question is if WhatsApp is self-censoring itself inside its own code. After all, why upset billionaire friends with whom you may happen to share billionaire places and events? <G>

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    *regulations are designed to protect local carrier revenues*

    Local carriers need to adapt to new conditions. The Internet is not going away, even if its future is somewhat uncertain due to privacy concerns and indiscriminate data hoovering.

    It will take the time it has to, but any local carrier that wants to survive will have to get on the ball. Any regulation removing the need to do that is simply a temporary stopgap measure.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: *regulations are designed to protect local carrier revenues*

      Nominet has blocked ENUM mapping UK phone numbers to DNS ever since the protocol was launched.

      Of course, they don't call it that. It's just being tested. Forever.

    2. DropBear

      Re: *regulations are designed to protect local carrier revenues*

      As long as capitalism is basically rent-seeking in practice, all over the board, this is unlikely to change. You get dirupted dinosaurs screaming for the money they're due, and legislation that makes sure they get it it's against the law not to pay them. You're welcome to file a bug report for the system if you wish, the first one goes straight to /dev/null; subsequent ones to the relevant "peace-keeping" authorities.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dubai too

    This is also the case for people with Dubai phone numbers

  4. streaky

    Do people really..

    still think that decompiling Java is anything but trivial to lie about this stuff?

    No really though I imagine if it's blocked by the country then it wouldn't be unreasonable to block it in your app just to stop negotiating it and extra load to your gear. That said the sensible thing to do would be to tell people that.

  5. Gideon 1

    Could be that it is blocked in the network, but the app doesn't even try as it would get a timeout, and they're doing this in an effort to be a little more slick and user friendly. The blocking while roaming might just be collateral damage from over-simple code.

  6. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Morals issue?

    It might be blocked on religious grounds to prevent hanky-panky. This sounds stupid I know but the Saudis make Baptists look like party animals.

    1. TheVogon

      Re: Morals issue?

      "This sounds stupid I know but the Saudis make Baptists look like party animals."

      You obvious haven't been there much. Or out in the expensive parts of London during Ramadan. When they think no one is looking, the Saudis make party animals look like Baptists...

      1. DropBear

        Re: Morals issue?

        ...except today there's no such thing as nobody looking (and recording, in HD, due on Facebook in 3...2...1...) and the body-maiming punishments that they seem to dish out regularly for the tamest offences (by western standards) to the hapless idiot of the month who though he's going there to have any sort of good time are rather on the blood-chilling side and entirely negate whatever their natural uninhibited impulses might otherwise indicate.

  7. Mahhn


    Who the f cares, it's Saudi, the family that is competition with the Rothschilds to enslave the world. They can build their own damm app.

  8. Alister

    I don't suppose anyone has considered that the VoipNotAllowedActivity Class might simply be a bunch of code to handle the situation where the network or handset doesn't allow VoIP, instead of the App dying in a heap if it can't connect?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Buy a phone in Saudi

    Then fly to France.

    Probably not the best thing to do right now.

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