Why Viber Has Been BLOCKED on Lebanese 3G and How to Bypass the Ban

viberUpdate 2: It Appears Viber has been restored to normal functioning on 3G Networks in Lebanon

Update: Read the Viber Team’s Official Statement to the concerns raised below

So, apparently, Viber has been blocked if you’re on mobile Internet (3G/EDGE) in Lebanon and that has been confirmed with local carrier Alfa, who just said “the ministry has blocked it”. Now, naturally, knowing the telecom sector in Lebanon, it’s to stop you from using services without paying them a LOT of money for a sub-standard service most of the time.

Possible Reason?

However, an article on LebanonDebate delves deeper into this, and has revealed that the founder is an Israeli-American who served in the IDF. It also hints at the fact that the app has access to your phonebook and transactions done on it (photos, etc.) which is usually standard for apps like that (Whatsapp for example needs those permissions, and so does “TrueCaller”). Viber raised further concerns for the guys at LD because it is completely free (no app fee or ad support) and questioned why would they offer such a great and free service without anything in return if not for malicious reasons?

Well, when it comes to apps and social networks, it’s very tough to make money at first. Sensations like Instagram and Skype are never profitable, until they become successful enough to be acquired by bigger fish (Microsoft bought out Skype, Facebook bought out Instagram). So, not making money is common for web and mobile start-ups and doesn’t raise much of a red flag for me.

As for the founder being an Israeli-American, and serving in the IDF, remember all Israeli citizens serve in the IDF (it’s mandatory) and many companies are bound to have Israeli employees (just like they have Lebanese ones all over the world). So, honestly, I’m not really sold on the Israeli spy conspiracy thing, and if you’re worried about Israel getting your photos and calls, stop using it. If you’re worried about your privacy, don’t download apps like Viber and TrueCaller, which by the way is much worse in terms of permissions and privacy breaches (which I know most of you have).

How to bypass this ban?

It’s pretty simple, all you need to do is download a free app (on Android and iOS) which I have linked to at the bottom. This allows you to set up a virtual private network (VPN) which allows your device to use an IP address from different countries and locations, which to a certain degree, allows you to mask your identity and location (unless someone is really intent on finding out) and thus allows you to appear as if you were in Europe or the US for example and thus bypassing the block by the Ministry. I have worked with a friend back home and he has confirmed it works, as well as another friend, Jerome, in the UAE (both Androids).

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Viber’s Pluses and WiFi Connectivity

It seems to be working fine on WiFi connections, it’s just the mobile internet connections that are blocking the use of Viber. If you’re like me, and use the app to stay connected with loved ones around the world for free, this app is extremely useful and saves you a lot of money. A scare based on speculations it’s an Israeli spy tool or to force you to pay more instead of save on telecom, is not fair to you. So, knowing the risks of possible privacy breach, it’s up to you to decide if you want to use it or, and definitely not the government’s decision and I am extremely disappointed and outraged with the Telecom ministry and Minister Sehnaoui for letting this pass without telling us about it, especially after making all the fuss about the ISF IB requesting our information.

Download and Usage

Just click on the links below from your devices, or search for any free VPN app on Google Play or the App Store. I recommend HotSpot Shield. Also, remember, this app might be app supported and might use internet connection itself, so to save MBs, only activate it before opening Viber. If you want extra security though, for all your online browsing, keep it on most of the time. Also, the Android one is completely free, but the iOS one is free for 7 sessions only (as usual, Apple = wallet drainage or jailbreaking =P)

Android App

iOS App

Comments

  1. Melissa says

    Is it just me or does the Lebanese government seriously have a complex of superiority?? Now they’re trying to convince us that some Israeli spy created a free calling app which had been popular all over the world wayyy before smartphones/3G even became widespread in Lebanon just to spy on our private conversations and get our details? Hmm…. sounds a bit far-fetched to me.
    In any case, conspiracy or not, thanks for bringing this up Gino, been enjoying the thought-provoking posts.

  2. jim says

    we could do without intel too btw… biggest single employer in the technology sector in israel they are… we can also do without facebook, after all, it was founded by a jew (i don’t know his stance on israel, but it matters not, he’s a jew!)… we can, while we’re at it, make sure to boycott all these people (only to start with): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Jewish_American_businesspeople

    of note: microsoft’s CEO, co-founder of google and the founder/chairman of dell.

    quite frankly: fuck this lebanese society of “only what suits me” hypocrits, go back to the stone age where you belong. i’ll be leaving soon to do valuable things elsewhere.

  3. Hala says

    Honestly, i am more afraid of the government itself!! All the harm ive seen them do i chose to trust viber over them :)

    • ziad says

      me too!! and so is the case for the most of us.. we don’t fear israel spying over us as much as the isf and the lebanese army spies and the rest of the lebanese spy services, israel is interested in its national security.. the isf however is veryyyyy much interested in the all of us(while never caring to spy on syria or israel or anyone else but us)

  4. p says

    Viber Media is an Israeli company.
    It is not until recently that they started covering their trail by using their office (?) in Cyprus.

  5. Viber Team says

    Hi everyone,
    This is an official representative of Viber Media. We’re here to answer your questions and address your concerns :)

    – Regarding the points raised in the article and the doubts expressed by the users:

    Viber is based in Cyprus with development facilities in Israel and Belarus. Servers are all over the world, but the ones storing the data (the “database”) are in the US

    Viber is a 100% commercially-run company, and has nothing to do with any government or governmental institute, including the Israeli one.

    – In relation to Viber’s privacy policy:

    First, it is important to be accurate – we only collect names and phone numbers, nothing else. Naturally, we collect users’ information for functional reasons, in order for us to enable the service that we, as a company, promise to provide. Without that information, Viber cannot function. This is not different from any other major social network/communication service provider in our world nowadays, as explained by other users in the above comments.

    I would like to clarify: we *do not* and will never sell users’ information to third-parties, and we keep this information well locked in our servers, with extremely limited access to it. This information (in great detail) is explained in our very clear and transparent Privacy Policy – to which we are committed by law – that can be found in our official homepage. Have you taken a close look at it?

    If after reading it carefully there are still doubts or questions, then we will be more than happy to assist and clarify and answer any of them.

    If you still have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to write them, and we will address them shortly :)

    Best regards,
    Viber.

    • Viber Team says

      Lastly, regarding why Viber is free:

      Currently, Viber’s focus is on adding platforms, features and integrating with more platforms, as well as improving overall system performance. At the same time, we are working on additional premium services that will generate revenue once they become available. The basic Viber service – Viber-to-Viber phone calls and text messages – will always be free.

      We believe this model is not different from most other services you use on a daily basis. Is it not? ;)

      Thanks,

      • Rhina Agsalda says

        IP to IP is always free all VoIP platform offers this feature. But the data mining part and sharing customers info to your 3rd party partners is quite deceptive. VoIP hosting infrastructure is not cheap specially if you already have 200 million endusers. Leasing a Data center space, internet hub of how many Gbs, employees, servers, electricity etc..would cost you millions of dollars in recurrent fees per month. How did you pay for all of these freebies? And why do you need to hack all your customer devices just to collect data from them – these has nothing to do with communications now.

      • Viber Team says

        @carol -

        Our permission is not different from any similar application in the world today. Moreover, some permissions are there for future features that are coming soon :)

    • Rhina Agsalda says

      I vote for La Tigre Mika its a real VoIP they dont data mine and IP to IP worldwide is also free. For $12.50 a month you can take your phone anywhere in the world. Unlimited free international long distance “in network” plus its secured and they dont eat too much bandwidth. It even works in dial up connectivity. Unlike all these freeware which actually malwares used by hackers you will end up to be spending so much money in your internet connectivity besides being an easy target to any predators since your info is all over for public viewing. Most of the free VoIP apps in the appstore and google play are used by hackers to get vital information about you besides recording your conversation like what this app in google does Google+++ with the robot avatar. There’s no such thing as free lunch.

  6. marcus560705059 says

    It seems the Lebanese government will do anything to stop its citizens getting something for free without them being able to take a huge profit from it. I have never heard such crap in my life from a 3rd world bunch of egotistical morons to think the app was invented purely to spy on them. It has to be noted that the application was happily in use all over the world prior to Lebanon dragging its mobile phone system out of the dark ages. What next, no msn, gtalk, skype etc etc etc.

    Grow up and get over it !!!!

  7. f says

    Guys you can use LINE a similar app. There are a several articles on VIBER being a spyware irrespective of Lebanon. Google ‘is VIBER a spyware’

    • Viber Team says

      @f -

      Viber has one of the strictest Privacy Policy in the communication application market today. We have responded to our users’ concerns almost in all of the articles you mentioned, and we will continue to do so, in order to address our users’ concerns.

      • Rhina Agsalda says

        This is a funny reply so what’s the purpose of you collecting your customers privacy and keeping them in your server. If you do have strict code of ethics concerning privacy you will not violate and collect all your customers personal data and share it to whomever 3rd party companies affiliated with your sideline business with.

    • sara says

      good thing there are always alternatives when it comes to voip(or any other app for that matter)..
      is viber the only voip app blocked from our 3g networks(a good question!), if so.. then the government may have some real concerns(security wise), otherwise it’s nothing but an excuse to prevent people from using voip(free “uncharged” spying-free calls), but again… there are soooooo many apps out there and i wonder how will they possibly block them all(in case they intend to do so in the future), and i hope viber is not just the begining.
      nowwwwwwww [viber-wise]… in case this thing will spread “israeli connection” or spyware possibility(& “possibility” is more than enough) to start the rapid or(slow and gradual but steady) downfall of this app to other successor apps on the rise, that’s eminent

      • Rhina Agsalda says

        There’s only one thing that we can do as consumers to protect ourselves from any predatorial business practices is to read their terms and conditions. There’s alot of freware VoIP applications that are technically classified as malware – malicious softwares that hacks any device you downloaded them into. What is our loss – we loose the security in our conversation, imagine they would know your bank accounts and login info since they can eaves drop at anytime. Your device will not function properly anymore since they opened a lot ports that they can go in and out in your devices to monitor you. Waste a lot of money for buying expensive internet plans just to cater for their malware VoiP service since all of them eats a lot of bandwidth because VoIP is not really their forte. I know one company that really specializes in VoIP without a catch La Tigre Mika and they are cheap its only $12.50 a month. IP to IP is also free worldwide and works even in dial up connectivity your cheapest internet connetivity ever. Secured communication and doesnt data mine. I’d rather pay a little than become victimized by the free VoIP apps that has ulterior motives. I wonder how these guys like Viber manage to pay their maitenance cost – it cost monthly millions of dollars to run a real VoIP company. Maybe they can afford because according to them they are sharing all their customer’s info to their 3rd party company partners like Amazon Inc.. maybe Viber makes commisions on every cash cow customers that purchases in their 3rd party companies. Just doesnt want to declare it.

  8. mhamad says

    i use viber normally(regardless if it’s a spyware or not), actually i prefer using viber over the “24/7 spied upon” landline and cellular phone calls(& sms) made over our networks from the real spies(isf/ army spies/ general security, & all the others who are openly and “innocently” asking for alllllllll our data and recording alllllll our calls and messages…)

    • Rhina Agsalda says

      I’d rather be spied by the government than a viber that I dont know what and are they affiliated to. They might be terrorists or communists who profiles people and steals their identity. You should be more aware and concerned if you value yourself/ your life. Non disclosure on how they make money is also fishy since there’s no such thing as free lunch but technically they did say in their terms and and conditions that they are sharing all the data collected from their customers to their 3rd party company partners like Amazon Inc… probably just dont want all their customers to know that they are really their cash cows. A real VoIP company platform doesnt collect data and share your info to non related business venture to any 3rd party company partners. On top of that, a real VoIP company has maintenance cost that’s why they have to at least charge their customers so that they can maintain and develop their services and pay taxes as well to help improve the country’s economy. Where do you classify viber?

  9. Nizar Sultani says

    My Viber is working fine over Alfa 3G and my mom’s too, we didn’t even need to dosnload a VPN shield… Besides if it really was beacause of Israeli spying they would have blocked it over WiFi too! It’s clear that it’s a financial issue only because the governement is pissed at how people are calling each other without paying a dime… It’s Lebanon what can we say?

    • Rhina Agsalda says

      You should listen to your government. It can mess up your national security and there’s no such thing as free lunch.

  10. Joe says

    Guys just enjoy the amazingly free VOIP software VIBER regardless of what blogs or governments might say about it!
    You should be glad to know that VIBER has been unblocked again (since Monday i guess) and it has been working fine ever since without the need of a VPN software.

  11. Fares Lebanon says

    No need of viber (spyware) we can use Skype, it have more clear voice quality
    i uninstalled viber specially after their latest update and their recent privacy where they will be able to spy and change things in your phone , byeee

    • says

      Hi Fares,
      Please read our official response to the privacy claims. We also encourage you to thoroughly read our Privacy Policy (found in our homepage).

      • Rhina Agsalda says

        Yes I did read -you are sharing all your customers collected data to your 3rd party partners like Amazon Inc. Is that how you make money to all your customers any purchases from 3rd party companies you have commissions?

  12. lidiakarkafi says

    I cancelled my viber by mistake before one month and from that day i m downloading it again but they told me wait for sms code but i didn’t get the code i want to know what to do too download viber again thanks

    • Viber Team says

      Hi,

      Please try removing Viber, wait 24 hours, reinstall and try again (make sure you try both the SMS and the automated call options).

      In addition, you may try to register to Viber with a different number (for example – your home landline number, a friend’s number, etc.), in order to determine whether the problem is specific with your number, or a general one.

    • says

      Viber is not owned by an “Mossad agent”. The conspiracy theories raised in some parts of the world against anything that has ANYTHING to do with Israel is amusing ;)

      Viber is a totally commercially run company. It has no connection, whatsoever, with any governmental agency.

      • Viber Team says

        @celine -

        Currently, Viber’s focus is on adding new features and integrating with more platforms, as well as improving overall system performance. At the same time, we are working on additional premium services that will generate revenue once they become available. The basic Viber service – Viber-to-Viber phone calls and text messages – will always remain free.

      • Rhina Agsalda says

        So why are you monitoring and collecting data and sharing it to your 3rd party company partners like amazon inc. How Viber manage pay for the monthly reccurent fees to hos their customers of 200 million? You need to have a budget of millions a month in order to host these customers. So how did you acquire your budget to deploy your free app? Even apple who makes trillion of dollars will not do this kind of freebie deployment. what’s the catch?

      • Rhina Agsalda says

        So why are you collecting their data and monitoring each customers usage? This is written your terms and Conditions.The cost of hosting for 100 mb is $600 in one data center in order for any VoIP platform to work like Viber. So if you have 200 million customers how did you manage the cost of your deployment if its all free? Your company is not even listed in the fortune 500 companies so how can you deploy without a budget? Why are you sharing and collecting your customers info to your selected 3rd party companies like Amazon etc..? Is that how you generate your budget monitoring and collecting data from your customers in exchange for purchase commisions?

    • marmat says

      i guess viber is now blocked in Lebanon, but we still need an official annoucement. 2 days ago i was using it normally but now i have tried connecting through 4 different DSL lines, through 3G but with no luck.
      i don’t really think it a spying application, if it was a spying application why viber and not tthe others too? i mean they can all be spying apps.

      • says

        Hi marmat,

        I am a Viber representative.
        We have received other reports from our users in Lebanon that Viber stopped working several days ago. It seems like our app is blocked again in the country :(

        If you have any news or updates, kindly let us know :)

        Best regards,
        the Viber Team.

  13. Sally says

    My service provider is Alfa and my DSL provider Ogero…on both for the past 4 days Viber seems to be blocked. I checked with Alfa and they told me that the application is not being blocked by them as it happened in December… I know other people who have Alfa 3G and MTC and they certainly are not facing the same problems. It is kind of weird!!!

    • marmat says

      It seems the application is working again in Lebanon, i have just tried it today on DSL line. Weird!

      Not sure what is happening. Block, unblocked?
      anyways, i am glad it is back.

      • Viber Team says

        Hi everyone,

        Does anyone know if there is an official announcement regarding these fluctuating blocks/unblocks in Lebanon?
        We (Viber) are trying to understand if this is an official move by the government/cellular companies, or just technical issues.

        Thank you!
        the Viber Team.

      • marmat says

        Viber is back working in Lebanon and i have never faced an issue since april 13. Personally, i am not aware of any official announcement regarding these blocks/unblocks. I don’t know might have been technical issues or maybe it had something to do with the Anonymous operation. If i am not mistaken an operation was launched on april 7 targeting many websites and servers. I am not sure i am just assuming.

        • says

          @marmat -

          Thanks for the info.
          We’re glad to hear it’s working again, and we’d be happy to receive more reports from you if this changes in the future (hopefully not!)

          Thanks, and keep enjoying Viber.

  14. says

    its a little weird, Honestly, I wasn’t believe that Viber is made by Israelis is the first place, than I knew when The EGAF (Egyptian Armed Forces) Announced and heavily warned to their employees to avoid using Viber, them and their second-degree relatives.

    Maybe They have their own things to worry about, for me, I rather to say when my Country’s armed forces said, I trust these guys anyways. I will stay away from Viber, Me and everyone I know

    And until they say which law they apply to the information security, and until they Announce their ID on their website:
    I ADVICE YOU (WHO READING MY MESSAGE RIGHT NOW) TO STAY AWAY FROM VIBER, YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY CAN DO WITH YOUR INFORMATION.

    I’ve did some researches, no trademark in US, no Offices for the company in any place outside Israel, Only seems that only the Israeli laws, will apply to them, which is really not good law when it comes to privacy polices.

    FYI, Late last month, Israel Said that you need to announce your bank accounts information when you visit Israel, (Even for tourism purposes), Otherwise, you’re banned from visiting Israel.

    • says

      Hi there,
      I’m an official representative of Viber.

      The information you presented here is not accurate, to say the least.

      Viber is based in Cyprus with development facilities in Israel and Belarus. Servers are all over the world, but the ones storing the data (the “database”) are in the US

      Israel is the source of many high-tech startups and (very) respected companies, some of whose technology you are using on a daily basis. It is not our wish to advocate for Israel in anyway, just to place it in its right place in the technological world ;)

      Now, you referred to the block in Arab countries – you’ll be surprised, but the reason Viber is blocked on many Arab countries is mainly not because of where Viber is located, but rather because Viber hurts the revenues of local mobile operators. Whereas in Europe and other Western countries simply banning VoIP is illegal, there is no problem imposing such harsh regulations in those countries where democracy is fragile (to say the least), and hence Viber (and Skype, and Whatsapp) are often blocked. Try to use Skype in many of those countries, and you’ll see that it’s banned as well. Does that mean that Skype is also a malicious, Israeli, data-stealing company?

      Regarding info about Viber – we don’t think we ever hid anything. It’s not like we’re intentionally hiding information about ourselves. On the contrary, in the past year we’ve been giving more and more interviews, explaining who we are, where we are located, etc.

      This is our CEO, Mr. Talmon Marco: http://www.mobileworldlive.com/interview-talmon-marco-ceo-viber (Nice to meet you ;) )
      I invite you to run a quick Google search, and you’ll find numerous interviews with him, talking and sharing information about our company, our employees, and our plans.

      If you still have questions or doubts, please don’t hesitate to let me know, and I’d be happy to assist :)

      • Rhina Agsalda says

        How did Viber host these millions of users without reccurent maintenance cost that every conventional companies have. Data centers, airtime termination for text messages, internet connectivity to server hosts etc.. If Viber doesnt have any ulterior motives why are they data mining their cash cow customers and sharing their infos to Amazon Inc. etc. 3rd party partners? Do you they make commissions on any purchase of goods by their customers from the 3rd party that’s why they are so into collecting datas. To avoid paying taxes masked themselves as free communications?

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  16. says

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  18. Mohammad Ajlouni says

    I honestly do not care whatever about where Viber had originated and whether they have offices in Israel or not. The world is not as it used to be before, the social media is everywhere and spying over the normal people is history since you do not need to spy anymore; people themselves are uploading these to the world to see. What I value Viber for is that their services are consistence and free of charge. I love their option to extract all my messages history and send it by email. In this way I feel that I own my data and I have full control over it.
    What does annoy me nowadays is that the Viber services have been bannedcensored in KSA. I use Viber heavily to communicate with my family and friends and I am not willing to switch to any other service. I am looking around for ways to make it run again on my iPhone 4S :-)
    If you guys around have a suggestion how I can go around the ban in KSA “Free of Charge” solution, please reply here.

    Thanks,
    Mohammad

  19. Rhina Agsalda says

    How did Viber host these millions of users without reccurent maintenance cost that every conventional companies have. Data centers, airtime termination for text messages, internet connectivity to server hosts etc.. If Viber doesnt have any ulterior motives why are they data mining their cash cow customers and sharing their infos to Amazon Inc. etc. 3rd party partners? Do you they make commissions on any purchase of goods by their customers from the 3rd party that’s why they are so into collecting datas. To avoid paying taxes masked themselves as free communications?

  20. Rhina Agsalda says

    How did Viber host these millions of users without reccurent maintenance cost that every conventional companies have. Data centers, airtime termination for text messages, internet connectivity to server hosts etc.. If Viber doesnt have any ulterior motives why are they data mining their cash cow customers and sharing their infos to Amazon Inc. etc. 3rd party partners? Do they make commissions on any purchase of goods by their customers from the 3rd party that’s why they are so into collecting datas. To avoid paying taxes masked themselves as free communications more deceptive practice in business?

  21. teamviber says

    Hi Rhina,

    Currently, Viber’s focus is on adding new features and integrating with more platforms, as well as improving overall system performance. At the same time, we are working on additional premium services that will generate revenue once they become available. The basic Viber service – Viber-to-Viber phone calls and text messages – will always remain free.

    Having explained that, of course we have a business model. As we said, once our premium services are launched, they will generate revenues for us.

    Moreover, the fact that we have a database (Amazon, etc.) does not mean we sell our users’ information – we do not and will never sell this information. Like any other company, naturally we need servers for our service’s database. Without it, how can we run a service for hundreds of millions of users across the world?

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Viber is no longer working on Alfa (Not sure about Touch) as the ministry has apparently stopped the service for all 3G subscribers. It is still working on Wireless connections though. Gino has some explanations as to why the service was stopped and how to bypass it. You can check them out [Here]. [...]

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