Clubhouse app blocked in Oman over lack of permit

Hashtag 'Oman_blocks_Clubhouse' was trending on social media in the country on Sunday

FILE PHOTO: The social audio app Clubhouse is seen on a mobile phone in this illustration picture taken February 8, 2021. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration/File Photo
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Oman has blocked US audio app Clubhouse on Sunday saying it did not have the correct permit.

The government did not respond immediately to a request for comment, but the telecoms regulator told the WAF news website that the application was blocked due to a "lack of proper authorisation".

"Similar communication applications must obtain a permit from the authority," the Omani Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said.

"Oman_blocks_Clubhouse" was trending on social media in Oman on Sunday. Many Omanis shared screenshots of the app showing "error message".

The app has proved increasingly popular in the Arab world with thousands of users and chat rooms for topics from comedy to politics seeing lively and engaged debates.

Access to Clubhouse was blocked in China last month, although no official reason was given at the time.

In the UAE, the app is plagued with sound issues, but regulators say the app has not been blocked.

Launched in early 2020, the San Francisco-based app saw global user numbers soar after Tesla chief executive Elon Musk and Robinhood chief executive Vlad Tenev held a surprise discussion on the platform.

Clubhouse has faced criticism elsewhere over reports of misogyny, anti-Semitism and Covid-19 misinformation on the platform, despite rules against racism, hate speech, abuse and false information.

The app has said it is investing in tools to detect and prevent abuse, as well as features for users to set rules for their rooms to moderate conversations.

"I hope that the suspension of the Clubhouse app in Oman is a result of technical issues and not a formal ban," tweeted Omani writer Zakaria Al Muharrmi.

"Preventing people from speaking and listening to others does not protect societies.”

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