The Vibe Of Viber—The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

viber

The Good

Viber is an exciting way to communicate these days. When I first tried it I was on cloud nine. I’m the guy who forgets to top up his phone and, I admit, I am a bit lazy to go do so. When I found an app that got me the chance to stay in touch with friends all over the world, even in my own city (duh!), using just my net connection, I grabbed the opportunity like I would the last bestseller on the shelf when a kid ten years younger than me is going ‘Don’t you dare, uncle!’

The app called Viber sure got my strings going all out. At first I thought my internet bill is gonna quadruple with some service charge or tax for using this app, but there was absolutely no such thing when my bill for Feb came along.

The Bad

I feel terrible to share this next part, because I recall how I felt when I learned this online.  There’s been a lot of news coverage about this, almost all of them mild, so I looked to fellow bloggers and compiled a bunch of data about Viber whose vibes have now begun getting on my nerves.

Bait

You probably already know this is an app that’s a lot like Skype only you needn’t get yourself an ID to access it. So what’s a viable programming alternative to enable millions of people the world over to use a free-call-through-the-net service like Viber just by installing the app? After all, this feller is known to auto-connect to your iPhone/Android/Smartphone’s address book, auto-find your buddies who also have the service and display them to you.

Here’s the ‘bad’ line from their privacy statement which no way in hell I’ll have cared to read anyway: “A copy of your address book will be stored on our servers and will be used to…” What does that portend? It means every single detail about your phone book is kept right there on their servers. Not only that, but the privacy statement also mentions how you give them the right to collect and log your every phone call, with the added right to share your personal info with 3rd parties they, ahem, ‘trust’.

The Ugly

You’ve probably begun uninstalling the software from your phone, so after you’re done don’t stop reading. The devil is in the details. iMesh was an early p2p (peer 2 peer) file sharing client. Kazaa was one such early p2p client who then went on to found Skype. On a similar note, iMesh founded Viber. What’s so significant about these guys? Well, they were having money-troubles despite having iMesh that promised to let you share music and videos with friends and family.

What they did to get more income was append spyware apps to their application product so you’ll need anti-spyware apps to counter them. It’s pretty funny a startup company like Viber looks like it’s trying to avoid the spotlight. How? You’ll find no details about the management team let alone the founders on the official website for Viber, that’s how strange.

Spying

This ‘cool’—sarcasm intended—app was founded by which group of people? Israelis. In America, if you’re of a mind to avoid some corporate holes in the ground and want laws that help you steer clear of the long arm, you take your startup company and head to Delaware State or you stay in Israel where you have similar freedom.

For whatever crazy reason, Viber was incorporated in Cyprus where it’s a well known fact that there have been some offshore gambling activities going on there. Anyway, what we were doing as Viber-lovers is giving our list of contacts (which includes friends and family) and our call logs to shady dudes who made their cash from distributing spyware? Scary lolz!

Skype was crafted by hackers but their legit run has got them recognized as the good guys, so much so that ebay acquired them. Phone bills are sick reminders of how less I make, but I think I’m gonna stick to that here on out.

The Silver Lining 

The past few months saw to Talmon Marco, CEO of Viber, giving amazing—no sarcasm intended—replies to comments, concerns and questions raised on these lines. It seems Viber has altered their privacy policy and got many users to regain confidence in them. I can say things are starting to look up for Viber and, potentially, for the rest of us.

Plenty of mobile apps like WhatsApp access your phone book too. In the modern social mobile scene, none of us can expect total privacy. It’s just the legitimacy of the company involved in accessing my contacts and logging my calls that worries me. I don’t endorse not using Viber, but where I stand it’s farewell to Viber whose vibes I wish I never felt—for the time being, at least.

Image Credit: dailyappblogger, Free Digital Photos.

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