A 32-year-old woman in Saudi Arabia pleaded guilty to insulting a man on text messaging service, WhatsApp. The unnamed woman was sentenced to 70 lashes and ordered to pay a 20,000 Saudi Riyal fine, according to the Daily Mail.
The country's anti-cyber crime laws state that any person who commits, who defames or inflicts damage upon others through the use of various information technology devices "shall be subject to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year and a fine not exceeding SR 500,000 or to either punishment," the IB Times reports.
According to its website, WhatsApp Messenger “is a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS.”
In 2014, two women were also punished by a Saudi court for using WhatsApp. Both women were sentenced to 10 days in jail and 20 lashes. The women were accused of insulting each other via the mobile app, according to the Gulf News.
Saudi Arabia contemplated blocking social messaging sites such as WhatsApp, Skype and Viber in 2013. Saudi Arabia's Communications and Information Technology Commission made a demand that telecommunication providers comply with its rules and regulatory conditions and threatened to “take appropriate action regarding these applications and services in the event of failure to meet those conditions," CNN reports.
It is suspected that Saudi Arabia wanted to ban the mobile communication apps because locals were using them to express freedom of speech, which poses a threat to the Saudi government.
In response, Saudi blogger, Eman Al-Nafjan, told CNN that “I believe a big part of the reason why this is happening ... is because lots of demonstrations that were organized in Saudi Arabia were done through the use of WhatsApp."
“A lot of human rights activists that communicate in Saudi Arabia do so using WhatsApp," added Al-Nafjan.