Recently, I became aware of Viber only because my wife used it to talk to her sister and on her smartphone it showed me already listed as a Viber user. I was like, “what?!” How is that possible and we tried calling my listed Viber contact to see what if anything would ring. Obviously, nothing rang. I even checked Google Play on my Android (it has a very handy list of ALL apps ever installed on your Android) and Viber was no where to be found! So my question, where & how did they get “my” contact info and why am I listed as a “Viber” when I’ve never even heard of the app!?
To investigate I installed it today and within a few seconds I discovered a lot of alarming stuff about how they gather everyone’s contact info and I do mean everyone. When you first install Viber on your iPhone or Android it will prompt you to allow access your address book, if allowed Viber not only saves your phone number and details but they ALSO saves the phone numbers and contact info of all your contacts! This is without the knowledge of those on your contact list. Legal? Well for one thing the Israeli founded company is registered in Cyprus, where a lot of online gambling companies register.
Here’s a screenshot of what you are prompted with on first install…
I clicked “Don’t Allow” and then it prompted this…
When you click “Ok” it returns you back to the previous screen which is giving you a choice of “don’t allow” that they won’t accept! So to install this app you MUST allow them to save your entire address book contacts on their servers.
“When you install the Viber App and register on the Site, you will be asked to provide us with your phone number and to allow us access to your mobile device’s address book (collectively, “Personal Information”). A copy of the phone numbers and names in your address book (but not emails, notes or any other personal information in your address book) will be stored on our servers…”
It continues with a short list of em… what they admit to doing with all your info (and the info of friends and family) that you’ve allowed them access to. I think they need to add a lot more detailed info on what is being done with everyone’s contact info!
So l closed the app then opened again to see if it would still ask for my address book info. For about 1 second it said something like… syncing address book, then the same message pops up asking me if to allow or deny access. My hope is this is just a matter of them asking permission before the sync and that they are not grabbing info without my permission.
The sad thing is that even though I never fall for things like this weather it be smartphone apps, phishing emails, spyware, spam and other cons on the internet… they ALREADY have my contact info saved on their servers! All it takes is anyone who has you added in their phone address book who uses Viber and just like that your info is stored on their servers WITHOUT your consent!
Also read: Your Apps Are Watching You by The Wall Street Journal