Privacy 101 or Why You Should Not Use iPhone App Viber

In the past couple of days, a free-calls iPhone app called viber is being praised around the interwebs (Techcrunch coverage here). It’s basically a Skype-like application, yet no skype ID is needed – it connects to your iPhone’s address book, and automatically finds your friends who are connected to the service. In this process (which is required by the application to operate), your whole address book is being sent to Viber’s servers and kept there (From their privacy statement: “A copy of your address book will be stored on our servers and will be used to…”). They now know practically every detail of your phone book. Even more, their privacy agreement states that they collect and log all your phone calls, and may share your personal data with 3rd parties they “trust”.

So, you would say, isn’t that a reasonable price to pay for free phone calls?

Well, not if you dig a bit deeper. Viber was founded by the same guys who started early peer-to-peer file sharing app iMesh (just like Skype, who was founded by the same guys that wrote p2p app Kazaa). Now, iMesh, besides offering users an easy way to share music and videos, was trying hard to make money as a company. And how do companies of spooky nature make money? You guessed right – by bundling the application with a bunch of spyware apps whose removal would usually require a good anti-spyware app.

Viber was founded by Israelis (although no data on the founders or management team can be found on Viber’s website, a pretty strange phenomena in the startup world). Most Israeli startups are incorporated either in Delaware (which is the state of choice for incorporating most US startups as well due to convenient corporate laws) or in Israel. Viber, for some odd reason, was incorporated in Cyprus, a location favored by offshore gambling operations.

So, will you give away all your contact lists and call logs to guys who made money from spyware distribution? Hell you shouldn’t. I’d rather pay a bit more in monthly phone bills, or just continue using Skype (which although created by hackers, has proven to play fair over the years, to the extent they were eventually acquired by a legit company, eBay).

Update: The WSJ just published an interesting article about how your mobile apps are spying on you. Worth a read.

Update: Over the past couple of months, Talmon Marco, Viber’s CEO, did a great job of responding to the concerns I mentioned above and to questions that were posted by users in the comments section of this blog post. Viber changed its privacy policy and did further steps to increase users confidence in their product. I find this behavior by Talmon to be noteworthy and genuine, and I wish Viber success with their product. In terms of their access to your personal data, it is not different than a wealth of other mobile applications (such as WhatsApp) that can access it. Unfortunately, we are entering yet another new era in which, in order to play the social mobile game, we cannot treat our phone’s contact list as private information. I’ll write a blog post about it in the near future.

82 thoughts on “Privacy 101 or Why You Should Not Use iPhone App Viber

  1. Ori Shalev

    Skype had their chance to improve in matter of usability for years, and they blew it. I'm more angry at Skype for that than concerned by Viber's privacy issues, and that's why I installed viber.

    1. Liad Agmon Post author

      Agree – Skype usability got stuck in v1, and haven't improved since. Jajah seemed like a good alternative for a while, but using it was too cumbersome as well. Still waiting for the killer app (hmmm… when is Facebook voip coming?)

  2. Ori Shalev

    One more thing – for many Israeli companies who aim for international markets, staying anonymous and establishing the company in a different country may be their only way for cope with anti-Israeli boycotts, both official and unofficial types.
    Cyprus is a "close but different" compromise.
    As far as I know, the Delaware laws used to be some kind of tax loophole in the past, but no more.

  3. dk

    I couldn't get this app to work. I tried putting it on my sons ipod touch so he can call me with it.. but no luck. Good to know.. luckily he only has two contacts on his ipod.

  4. Mr. Milk

    "I’d rather.. continue using Skype (which although created by hackers, has proven to play fair over the years, to the extent they were eventually acquired by a legit company, eBay)"

    So, following your logic, we all should wait some years to see if they play fair… Had everyone done that, Skype wouldn't even exist nowadays. BTW, most cloud services would be a complete failure..

    1. Diabolik

      Viber is not substitute for Skype. While Skype allows free calls on the net, between my pc and laptop and tablet and so forth, viber allows free calls from your mobile phone service provider to another mobile phone e.g. take your mobile phone and use it to dial my mobile phone.

  5. Talmon Marco

    First and foremost I’d like to say we are more than happy to discuss our privacy policy. We see it as an evolving document and will be making changes to adapt to make sure that our users (and our non users in this case) feel comfortable with it.

    That said, I would like to address the points raised in this post:

    * Sending the address book – we actually do not send the entire address book, we only send names and phone numbers. We do that not because we are curious to know who you have in your address book, but rather because we need to. There is no other way for us to know if your contacts are on Viber (at least none that we thought of). We send the names associated with the numbers because otherwise we won’t know what to write in the push notification and will have to send something like +12125551212 is calling you. Not good. Granted, we can ask the calling party for their name, but maybe they don’t want YOU to have their name. So with Viber, unless you know the other party’s name, you won’t know the name of the person calling you. Just like on a regular phone.

    Yes, we may share information with partners in order to provide the service. For example, we share your phone number with an SMS delivery company in order to send you a text message. I do believe that we can make this clause clearer. We will fix it.

    Yes, Viber was founded by the people behind iMesh. iMesh is a legitimate music service that licenses content from all the major record labels and thousands of indies.

    I don’t think the fact that we do not have a list of people on our website with fancy titles and CVs that show how great we are is necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s quite common, take a look at tumblr, twitter, gowalla – just a few companies I checked in the last few minutes..

    Anyway, we welcome the critiques – they help us improve our product and our policies as much as we are happy about the positive reviews we get. By the way, how did you feel about getting acquired by a company that buys positive reviews? (http://bit.ly/uwXeX )

    1. Hana

      Realy I dont care if my address book is sent to the whole world I dont think its that important so what spy on me or my frinds whats the big deal I am not doing anything that anyone would care about , and I hate my freinds to : )
      ha ha just kidding , this conspiracy theory is so much spreaded every where.

    2. Thomas in LA

      Talmon,

      Great post. It gives everyone a lot of confidence that you are listening and care about your Viber community. Keep up the great work.

  6. Liad Agmon Post author

    Talmon, thanks for chiming in.

    I won't open a discussion here on spyware and 'gray' ways of making money on the Internet, and I hope Viber will kill Skype in the marketspace (congrats on 3M users). I also hope that Viber will find letigimate ways of making money.

    Specifically, to your points above, agree, no need to mention team members. However, just got historical accuracy:
    Twitter's employee's page: http://twitter.com/about/employees
    Tumblr's About us page, with links to its employee pages the direct phone and email of it's president: http://www.tumblr.com/about
    GoWalla's blog with links to all of its team members: http://blog.gowalla.com/

    And finally, per your question about Sears:
    1. I was happy getting acquired. I was less happy with the Chicago weather.
    2. Sears had more troubles in the past than just buying good reviews (http://goo.gl/7bQpr). It was before my time there, but I believed they learned their lesson. Anyhow, I was happy just the same.

    1. Diabolik

      Viber will not kill Skype, you can rest assured. To much resources, and too much big corporations stay behind Skype, and also killing skype means killing microsoft. Microsoft owns skype, and we will long see and long use skype.

    1. ozman

      Here's what the Tango license states:

      License Grant to Tango. You hereby authorize Tango to access and use the address books and contact lists contained in the devices to which you have downloaded the Software for purposes of your use of the Service.

  7. Pingback: Is Viber een duister zaakje? - iCreate Magazine

  8. Dave

    What would you advice to someone who already installed it and want to get rid of it? The data is already sent to them and probably there is no way I can get them to delete it…

  9. Mohamed

    Gentlemen,

    Great topic on a great concept. But, Talmon, you didn't address the fact that you store all calls. Why?

    I know that there is nothing preventing t-Mobile, AT&T, Vodafone, Skype, Google Voice, etc., from doing the same thing, but the CEOs of those companies are not available for us to pose this question to them.

    Why do you store our calls? What do you do with them? Who's listening? I'm an Android user, by the way, so if your answer is satisfactory, then I'll probably install your app when it's available for us 'droids ;-)

    Mo

  10. Pingback: Viber - Pagina 4 - iPhone Forum - alles over de Apple iPhone, iPad en iPod touch

  11. Mohamed

    Not sure if my question was removed or if I closed my browser before posting it, so I'll try one more time.

    This sounds like a great product (a game changer actually), but the privacy points raised here are very interesting. Talmon, thanks for responding but your answer didn't mention anything regarding the fact that Viber records and stores the calls indefinitely.

    Please let me know if I misunderstood your privacy statement. Why does Viber store the calls? Who listens, and what are the calls going to be used for?

    I saw a short video interview of you, and you mentioned that you share information with "trusted" organizations. But someone who is trusted by you may not be someone that your users trust. Can you clarify who and what types of organizations this might include?

    Thanks a lot, and best of luck.

    Mo

    1. Liad Agmon Post author

      Yes, those Jews (including the author of this blog) are the source of all evil. But that's a topic for a different blog post.

    2. Tai Pan

      Bigotry ,alive and we'll in your backyard ,Hank.Try to live without hate. It's an awesome freedom.

  12. Jo

    Lets stay on topic, for this topic is important – it reaches into more abstract matters, which are heavily principled and thus go way beyond an issue like this.

    What can a society do if some of its members do not abide by the collective agreed rules? Well, the answer is clear. When trust is broken, damaged or just fouled up, a collective can either go along with this lowering of standards, or dis-engage.

    (just to respond on thess redicule commends concerning Jews: It would give a old race far to much 'credit' to state that is the source of all evil. Old it may be, but history goes back even further … )

  13. Mark

    Great post Liad, thanks.

    @Talmon it would be good if you would explicitly state with which parties you share the my data and for what purpose.

    Or you could let me (O)authorize the third party to access my data, just like I can on Twitter etc.

  14. Joe

    @Talmon – I like your product. Great audio quality. Please offer a reasonable explanation why you save our calls and future texts. Until then, bye bye viber. If you stop saving calls, hello viber :)

  15. Aborn

    Viber is also closely watched with everyone's suspicious eyes here in Japan;)
    A Japanese blogger has attempted packet capturing.

    Please check his article. http://blog.isnext.net/issy/archives/tag/viber

    Viber have uploaded a variety of information without encryption.
    First name,Last Name,Phone number,ring tone setting and so on.
    This is really bad:(
    Why not use SSL at least?
    This is proof that Viber disrespects rights and privacy of others.

  16. Talmon Marco

    I appreciate the many comments here and would like to try and address them:

    Regarding personal data:

    * First and foremost we revised our privacy policy to address the issues raised in this post (and many others). You can check it out on viber.com.
    * On a technical side, we maintain a few things: your phone number (that's your ID or "account"), your UDID (an Apple hardware identifier so we can link your "account" to your phone), and a list of your contacts – phone number+name as you stored it. We do this so we can tell you which of your friends has Viber.
    * We only maintain your ID and UDID in a "database" (note that we do not know and do not ask for your name – as we do not NEED it). The rest (your contacts) are maintained in volatile memory with no backup. If your account becomes inactive (30-45 days) we delete your contacts from volatile memory. We have no backup of this data, nothing that lasts "forever". We do not delete you from our database for inactivity, so your phone number and UDID will be maintained until you delete them (or if there is a new registration with the same phone number or UDID). If you come back, we do not want you to have to authenticate again – that's why we do not delete for inactivity. If you delete your account, we will also remove you from our database. We maintain a database backup that is no older than 30 days.
    * Regarding future text messages (a feature in development) – we will maintain them on our servers to ensure delivery for up to 14 days. After that, we will delete them. Whether delivered or not. Server backups will be maintained a little longer. Not sure how long yet (this is still in development), but no more than 30 days is a safe bet.
    * Regarding call logs – we do not record your calls. In fact, over 70% of calls do not even go through our servers. When calls do go over our servers we just keep the voice data momentarily in volatile memory (well under a second) so that we can send it to the other user. We do maintain calls logs. At the moment indefinitely. We only maintain who called whom, length of call, and other technical parameters. We do this in order to analyze and improve our network. We plan to put more concrete limitations on this in the coming months as we get a better understanding of our system and data requirements. We truly welcome input on this policy. We understand that some users might feel unhappy about this. At the same time we hope that these same users understand that we cannot improve (read: debug) our system without keeping track of it.

    Regarding "trusted organizations":
    * I guess we did not word this properly. We revised this, essentially copying the relevant section from Skype's privacy policy. We need to share your data with 3rd parties in order to deliver our service. For example – we send you an SMS for authentication – we need a partner to handle these text messages. Also, we host our servers somewhere (Amazon AWS) – so our data is on Amazon's servers. In the future we may offer paid services – we will need to process your credit card, etc. We do not sell your data, we do not trade with it, we do not abuse it. The privacy policy is pretty strict when it comes to this.
    * To make it clear, at the moment we share your phone number for the purpose of sending authentication text messages with 1 of 3 partners and we host with Amazon. No other partners.
    * In a couple of days we will have an audio based (we will call you) authentication method so a new partner (voice termination partner) will have access to your phone number (since we call you) and the audio itself (your code) will go over their infrastructure and whoever they partner with to deliver phone calls. This is how the world of telephone works.

    I hope this answers all questions. I think our privacy practices are second to none. We live and die by our privacy policy. If you wish to comment, have suggesting, find me on twitter – @duras.

    @Martijn – we will never sell your data. We may sell the company (as is disclosed in the privacy policy). In which case, the stored data will be sold as well. We should revise the privacy policy to state that the buyer should accept our privacy policy as a condition of sale. Added to my to do list.. Regarding our location – check out this article – http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2010/10/21/goog

    @Aborn this is a classic case of be damned if we do, be damned if we don't. We had long discussions regarding encrypt vs not encrypt. If we encrypt, then they will tell us that we are doing some "hush hush thing" under encryption. If we do not, then they tell us we do not respect user data. We chose to do things in the open so it was clear that we are not "hiding" data. Facebook, Yahoo and many other sites deliver your data unencrypted as well, so we thought this was enough. Were we wrong? Again, we welcome your feedback.

    Thank you.

    Talmon

  17. issy-viber

    Dear Viber CEO Talmon,

    Thank you for very interesting VoIP application.
    I'm japanese blogger who are above mentioned by @Aborn. I was going to read the comment being interested.

    I have some suggestion about Viber application.

    1. Add choices whether encrypt it by SSL or not for users.
    At this case, Sending data is not only myself but my friend's. My data is belong to myself, so I can send it to Viber Server by own consideration. But friend's data is not. I want to handle my friend's data with safely. There is no problem for your bussiness if the user selects the encryption actively.

    2. Change the message about Address Book.
    Now your messge on start up to use Viber is " Viber Would Like To Access Your Address Book [Don't Allow] [OK]". I think that changing like this is suitable. " Viber Would Like To Upload Your Address Book For Delightful Notification". If user selects 'Don't Allow', show new message "Viber will send notification with only phone number, OK? " and continue for registration. This is reasonable, isn't this?

    3. Add a link for your Privacy Policy on setup screen of Viber.app.
    Now users can not find your Privacy Policy by easily on your application. This is very regrettable. It is very easy to add link.

    4. Add delete and resubmit function of Address Book Data on your server.
    I wants to control my own data, and keep it safely. I guess many users is same. At this time, Address Book Data sync to server automatically, but there is some data not wanting it synchronizing with the server. So, delete or edit function is required.

    I believe these correspondences are not too difficult for you.
    Please consider it for the users who wants to use Viber at ease.

    Best Regards,

    issy-viber

  18. Talmon Marco

    @Issy-Viber:

    I'd like to address the points you raise:

    1. The more options we add to the application, the more cluttered it will get. We want to be very careful with the options we include. I believe we will encrypt the information in a future release. Please note that this will not happen in the immediate release, but chances are that will happen before the end of Q1. If someone asks why the data is encrypted and not sent in the clear so that all can see that we are not hiding data, I am going to send them to you :)

    2. We might change the message, but if a user declines they will not be given access to the application. Without the address book numbers we cannot tell which numbers in your address book have Viber, so the app becomes useless. As for the names, in the future we'd like to offer the ability to sync address books to platforms that do not have a built in address book (and we are quite open about it – see section 1d of our privacy policy). I don't want to issue a crippled product, as I am sure that we will have plenty of users that will say "no" (without even reading what we're asking) and then say the product doesn't work.

    3. Good point. We will do it.

    4. I don't want to add a sync/unsync button to every contact in the address book. Then I need to add an indicator next to each contact that shows whether they are synced or not, and I end up with a cluttered product. If a user does not want their data on our server, they will have an easy "delete account" link in the application. This will delete their account and all associated data. At the moment, this is done via a customer support link. In the near future this will be a feature of the app.

    Issy, we worked very hard to create a certain "experience". Adding too many "configuration" features, features that cater to 0.01% of the users is going to make the application cluttered and less useable for the other 99.99%.

    One of the key reasons users like iPhones so much is Apple's ability to limit the amount of features that make it into their software. We are trying to follow the same model.

    Our privacy policy is very clear. We are going to follow it to the letter. We are going to respect the privacy of our users. To borrow a term from my favorite show, this is our "Prime Directive".

    Talmon

  19. issy-viber

    Dear Viber CEO Talmon,

    Thank you for your BIG Christmas Gift !
    I understand, and I translated your words into japanese, to explain to many japanese viber users. It is published on my blog.

    I agree, it is good that the application is simple like Apple's one.
    But also I wish it should be safe in the Internet.

    I look forward to the growth of Viber in the future.

    Best Regards,
    issy-viber

  20. Talmon Marco

    Issy – Some updates:

    1. We will be adding encryption. This should happen in Q1 – not sure when.
    2. The message will change to make it clear that it's not the Viber Application only that is accessing the phonebook, but rather the VIBER SERVICE. I hope that makes it clearer. This will happen in the next release (easy fix) – January.
    3. A link to our privacy policy will be added to the first screen the user sees. We will also add a link to our privacy policy from the "more" section. I believe this will happen in the next release as well – January.
    4. We will add a deactivate link. I hope this will happen in Q1. Regardless, users can contact our support and ask that their accounts be deleted today.

    Also, we will modify our Privacy Policy to make sure that if someone acquires Viber or merges with Viber they will be forced to adopt the sections in our privacy policy related to usage of personal information and also force any entity that acquires them and so on.. so users will be protected into perpetuity.

    Happy New Year,

    Talmon

  21. Pingback: Viber geeft antwoord: Stel hier je vragen - iCreate Magazine

  22. Georges Kaplan

    All right Talmon, you convinced me. Despite my first reluctance I will install Viber on my phone and give it a try. Now after such very encouraging and vivid statement you made regarding your policy and how you perceive your users privacy…. please don't be a disappointment.
    Or so help me I shall voodoo you over five generation… ^^

  23. Jay Bennett

    Umm I recieved a text from Viber saying that I installed it on my iPhone (which I don’t own), does this mean that someone’s using my number to make free calls of which I am not and most likely never be aware of?

  24. Talmon Marco

    Geroges – thank you. Viber 1.1 will include a link to our privacy policy on the first screen and also one on the about screen. We will also be revising the privacy policy in the coming days to further clarify what we do with private data and clarify things.

    Jay – this is likely someone that entered your phone number by mistake. Since you received the code (and not that person) they cannot activate Viber on your number. No phone calls will be made by this user on your behalf.

    Mohamed – Android is working in the lab but is still in "development". It should enter the QA phase in February. Should be out around March. If you wish to register for Viber Android beta go here. Viber Android is running on my Nexus S :)
    http://viber.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=cebf

  25. Mohamed

    I feel a lot better about this after reading the details of what Viber does with our info.

    Any time frame for the Android version?

    Mo

  26. Georges Kaplan

    One more thing though.
    Since Mister Talmon give us the fortunate opportunity to discuss with him, which it is in my humble opinion all in his (and Viber’) favour. So the question, already mentioned and perhaps a bit delicate, is regarding Viber’ capacity to “make money”. And the perennity of the company through the present free service it provides.
    In other words, I’d hate to become a daily enthusiast and satisfied Viber’ user (along with my family and friends) and suddenly have to endure for example unsolicited commercial harassment or else because Viber’s economical necessity requires new incomes to subsist.

    Furthermore, you mentioned and I quote; “In the future we may offer paid services”. Form there what can be expected of the free version in fine? Any insight about this? Thank you.
    Cheers.

  27. Talmon Marco

    @Georges

    There are several ways that we can generate revenues via Viber and we are in the early phases of researching these. In the interim, I’d like to assure you that Viber is *very well* funded and can survive for several years without needing any additional capital.

    Further, I’d like to reiterate the five commitments we made when we launched the company:

    1. The Viber software will always be free.
    2. Viber for iPhone (and soon Viber for Android) will never display any ads.
    3. Viber to Viber calls will always be free.
    4. Viber to Viber text messages (coming soon) will always be free.
    5. We will never sell, rent or in any other way abuse your personal information.

    Thanks again!

    Talmon

  28. Georges Kaplan

    Well, thank you very much for taking the time to respond Talmon Marco, it is much appreciated. And your inputs surely sounds honest and comforting if I may say.
    Now I have installed Viber on my “iPhriend” already but I haven’t started using it yet. But I think I’ll be on my way now, bringing some relatives along. And by doing so I certainly wish you the very best.
    Furthermore, just as a side note, if I was to become really satisfy with Viber and its services, and the circumstances would allow it – such as most of my contacts being “Vibered” – I would gladly pay a modest/decent fee for it. Of course, bottom line however would always be that I, and my family, would not be incline to pay for two separate bills for the “same” service/phone. But a (profitable) shift from one to the other would definitely be an option that we would love to have. Well… time will tell. Until then, again, thank you for your time and my best to you and Viber. Cheers.

  29. Don M.

    Talmon, thank you for taking the time to respond to these privacy issues.

    However, before I will install Viber, I need to be assured that Viber does not pull any other information, such as mailing and email addresses or notes data, from my address book. I have no objections to sharing names and phone numbers with the Viber service, but nothing else.

    I would be more comfortable if Viber, upon installation, when asking me if it can access my address book, would assure me that names and phone numbers are the only thing being accessed and sent to your servers.

    Thank, Don

  30. Talmon Marco

    @don indeed, we only make a copy of phone numbers and names. we just updated our privacy policy to be more specific about this (and many other things). You can read about this here:
    http://www.viber.com/privacypolicy.html

    Viber 1.1 (due this week) will include a link to our privacy policy on the first installation screen. We have also added a link to our privacy policy from the "more" section in the app, so users can read it also after installing the app.

    We have gone to great detail (more than any other privacy policy I am familiar with) to tell you EXACTLY what we do with your data. We also made it clear that while we may share data in order to carry out the service (for example, for billing purposes, should we offer paid services in the future), address book data will NEVER be shared.

    We also made it clear that should we ever sell the business (merge it, etc.) the new entity will have to commit to the same level of privacy or there will be no deal.

    As usual, we are more than open to comments. The privacy policy document has evolved considerably as a result of interaction with users (our actual practices were very strict from day one. Unfortunately, the document did not reflect this).

    Thank you,

    Talmon

  31. Sandor

    Talmon,
    a quickie: any chance of writing a Viber-compatible app on a non-supported platform? In other words, if I am making my iPhone-killer (and it is not Android), can I write an app that connects to the Viber service? I am not talking about making Viber itself open source, rather about opening (parts of) the service protocol to hackers. My gut feeling is that you will say 'Nope…' but want to make sure.

  32. Pro Viber

    Name any subject and theres always some nerd with a conspiracy blog! You want my name, my email and you have my IP, all that for a reply in a blog. Why are you better? Who are you working for? Was your father working for the army? Or maybe a hippie? I don't read any hard facts here! Rumours rumours

  33. Dan

    Talmon,

    Creating a Privacy Policy or adding a "THE APP NEEDS TO ACCESS YOUR CONTACT BOOK" button doesn't solve the problem, which is a legal issue:

    The word for taking something from somebody without his consent is STEALING. The fact that you have a privacy policy doesn't mean I agree with my personal information to be sent to your servers. You need to get my consent !!!

    Apple make it very clear:
    Apps cannot transmit data about a user without obtaining the user's prior permission and providing the user with access to information about how and where the data will be used.

    I don't know how your app has been approved but I don't think it will stay very long in the app store the way it is.

    So, as you can understand, I share Agmon's recommendation: do not use Viber the way it is, it's stealing your personal information.

    For those of you who agree, report this illegal data capture to privacy@apple.com

    privacy@apple.com

  34. Dave

    I had viber and so did my girl friend. After reading this I deleted my account. 2 days later my girlfriends phone in viber contacts still shows me as being a viber user. On this blog it says I would be deleted instantly. What's going on?

  35. Eduardo

    I have just raed all VIBER legal info and they explicitly and Many instances agree not to use our information In any way which will be different to needed to provide the service. It's even draconian and more secure than many other services like iTunes, or microsoft. I believe then your comment is mistaken.

  36. Talmon Marco

    @Dan Version 1.1 does not say that the App needs to access your data, it specifically refers to the Viber SERVICE as needing to access your data. So we make that very clear. Again, this is all governed by our privacy policy – you can see it on our app (before you agree to share data), you have a prominent link to it from the "more" section and obviously from our site. The first two references were added at the request of our users.

    @Dave what we said here (and in our privacy policy) is that we will delete your address book from our server after 30-45 days of inactivity. There is no way for us to know that you uninstalled Viber – Apple does not report app deletions to App developers. Regardless, Viber 2.0 will have a "deactivate account" option that will instantly deactivate your account. Viber 2.0 should be around in a couple of weeks.

    No matter what you do, there will always be someone to bash you. Our privacy policy and practices are second to none. I doubt you will find many companies that committed not to sell their business if the acquiring entity will not honor their privacy policy.

    In the interim, go to Google and start typing "why i hate" and see what other people hate: Facebook, Christmas, Snow, Apple, Their Job, Winter, Life… Everything is hated by some people. I guess Viber is still not popular enough as we are not on the list. Maybe someday :)

    Talmon

  37. Dan

    Talmon,

    thanks for answering but I really don't understand your point. Why don't you get users consent with something very clear like : I consent to let this app access my CB and send it to Viber??? What are you afraid of?

    Meanwhile, to me, your app is still against apple's license and should be reported as such to apple.

  38. Simon

    I use Viber a great deal as I am often out of the country and this is one way I don't have to put the laptop on or have to suffer huge mobile bills.

    Any news on when a Blackberry version will be available?

  39. Talmon Marco

    @Dan – I think it is quite clear. Regardless, you should read our privacy policy. I think it's pretty clear WHY we need this info and what we do with it.

    @Simon – no news re Blackberry. I'm afraid the next platform is Android (first betas are likely 7-10 days away).

  40. Jon

    Talmon,

    Thank you for taking the time to respond, it's helped convince me further toward your product.

    How do you respond to the negative reporting of your company being registered in Cyprus?

  41. Larsa

    To my knowledge, names and phone numbers are usually published in large books called telephone books. They even used to be available in the streets in phone booths. Yet, I don't know many people that choose not to have a telephone for that reason, they even pay for it!
    What is the problem here?

    1. Ari

      Let's take my phone book for example: It contains numbers to a few high ranking politics in my country. I have numbers to several CEOs whose mobile numbers are unlisted. I doubt you can find a single one of those from that large book called a telephone book. One of my customers has our country's president's number in his phone. That surely is unlisted.

      Am I hesitant to trust Viber with this information? Hell yes. That's why I ended up here. Viber sounds too good to be true and I'm old enough to know there's no free lunch. Viber people must get money from somewhere to be able to build and operate the whole thing. I still don't know where that money comes from and how they intend to stay in business so I'll keep looking.

  42. Kolt

    @lala : no, but that also means that if a friend has your number in his contacts, it will be sent to viber's server as well… even if you don't want.

  43. FREDRIK PERSSON

    Hi
    I found this website to be very useful.
    Al though I haven´t downloaded Viber my girl friend did. Now I'm getting automated calls at least 2-3 times a day from an unknown number promoting Vibers codes and activation. I have no intention of ever using Viber, it will be struck off from me, as I can't for the love of god get these calls to stop!!

    My telephone operator is unable to do any thing as the number calling me is unknown so they cant block it.

    So my comment is this, if any company that uses this type of marketing for their own potential customers and the 2-3 calls a day comes from 1 person registering with them what will it be is more register?

    I'll tell you…. it will be phone hell and I´ll have to give up the number i have worked hard for my clients to know in my business.

    I wont promote other companies but there are better more established options out there! that PLAYS FAIR!

    FRICTIO

  44. Pingback: Anonymous

  45. Bare Paddington

    It all sounds very kosher to me. What we seem to have here is a company with a long term plan to replace skype (the only thing they have not explicitly stated that they will not charge for is Viber to non-Viber calls á la Skype).

    They are therefore being totally open and honest about everything else in order to build up a clientele.

    Some people see conspiracies everywhere, but I don't think there is one here.

    Well done mr Marco for doing the scary job of actually engaging with your critics.

  46. Annonymous

    This is scary. I'm never using this privacy attacking app on my Galaxy S. I'm a beta tester, by the way.

  47. pxzun

    I bet the author works for skype. This is the generation of cloud computing. Even skype asks for access to information on your phone, be it android or iphone. Just sue them if they misbehave. When facebook opened to public there were pretty much same issues. Now google+ too. Social media is still growing and people are always paranoid. Be aware, read more. Technology is fun and rewarding if you know how to use it. If you can't trust technology don't use it.

  48. Salem

    Dear Talmon,
    Thank you for taking the time to participate in the discussions.
    If I understand you correctly, the Viber service is getting, from my address book, both the names in addition to the phone numbers so that it can show me the name of the caller. I have an alternative solution to this. Please check whether it works and if it doesn't tell us why.
    If your service gets only the phone numbers on my address book (to detect which people are on viber), each time a person calls me the Viber service sends the caller's phone number to my phone and the app (and NOT the service) associates the phone number to the person's name and shows the name to me. Does this work?

    Thanks.
    –Salem

  49. monkeyboy

    My brother wants me to install Viber so that he can call me for “free”. I did this and the first thing I was asked was to send my entire phone book to Viber. I’m not really sure that all of this information is mine to upload? Should I ask every person in my phone book for their permission to distribute their phone numbers before using the app? Why can’t I choose which number (i.e. just my brothers) I want to share?

  50. johny

    This app should be banned and all data deleted under government supervision. So this company now has a database of alot of names and their numbers. They are stealing this data from naive people. Lets say I dont want my number listed in public, a friend of mine has my full name and phone number in their phone, viber will get hold of my number and name and sell it to the highest bidder. Or to background check guys…Bloody thiefs

  51. tony flint

    LOL… this Viber is a piece of sh*t software, someone I know installed it the other day and it sent a SMS to every single one of his contacts including myself hyping up this piece of crap and how great it was for free calls. The odd thing was the SMS was styled in a way as if he had sent it himself, when I asked him what this was about he had no knowledge of sending anything to anyone about Viber, just that he had installed this P.O.S….but Viber obviously thought they should let all his contacts know anyway. Any NO Viber fanboys… i don't work for Skype or any other company in competition with this. I would rather use Google Voice or even Skype in comparison to this Spy-ware.

  52. Pingback: Viber アプリ | ピピピのピ

  53. Pingback: Viber - I'm Late to the Party | Irish Internet Technology News & Opinion

  54. Marc

    Why not just allow an opt-out for the reading of the contact list, and allow people to manually add individual contacts *if they wish to do it that way*. The automatic adding of contacts from your address book by Viber is a nice service, but not a necessary service. If you are honest, then allow an opt-out.

  55. Pingback: Anonymous

  56. Pingback: The next big business models focus around protecting your privacy - JvE blogremarks

  57. msd

    hey !! talamon ?! i would like to ask you what is the benifet your company gain from giving a free call and text message dont you think it just like go in vein ?? evry company follow the money ?? what is your purpose from free call with no gain to your company or else ??

  58. shakeel

    In this era of communications one van not hide anything. Considerjng this.fact one should not be worried about such privacy issues. To.me it seems to be more brand war instead of a privacy issue

  59. Sam Ameriya

    Some people I don't know how but are actually texting me on viber and asking me what's my name bla bla bla….i'm so irritated with these unknown people saying they gort my numbers of viber…:(

  60. Pingback: Why I Prefer iPhone over Android Phones

Comments are closed.