DUBAI : Saudi Arabia plans to block Internet-based communication tool WhatsApp within weeks if the U.S.-based firm fails to comply with requirements set by the kingdom's telecom regulator, local newspapers reported this week. This month the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) banned Viber, another such tool, which like WhatsApp is hard for the state to monitor and deprives telecom companies of revenue from international calls and texts.

The kingdom appears to be making a greater push for more control over cyberspace as Internet and smart phone usage soars, in part due to strict laws that limit opportunities for people to mix in person.

"We have been communicating with WhatsApp and other similar communication platforms to get them to cooperate and comply with the Saudi telecom providers, however nothing has come of this communication yet," Abdullah Al-Darrab, governor of the CITC, told Arab News.