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Saudi Arabia Blocks Viber Messaging Service

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the let's-see-what-you-got-there dept.

Government 83

another random user writes in with news about Saudi Arabia blocking a popular messaging service for not providing "a means to to be monitored." "The head of the messaging application Viber has said people in Saudi Arabia have had basic freedoms taken away, after his service was blocked there. Talmon Marco told the BBC he did not know the reason for the move, but that Viber would be restored soon. In March Saudi authorities warned Viber and other encrypted messaging services that they would be blocked unless they provided a means to to be monitored. Mr Marco said he had refused to provide data requested by Saudi officials. The fact that Viber's free phone and text messaging service is no longer working in the country is not entirely unexpected. The Saudi telecoms regulator had warned the firm — along with Skype and Whatsapp — that they would be blocked if they did not agree to be monitored."

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well... (2)

grub (11606) | about a year ago | (#43932909)

Heads are gonna roll over this.

Re:well... (4, Insightful)

davester666 (731373) | about a year ago | (#43933097)

They'll roll either way. Some will be lopped off it they can't monitor these services. Others will be lopped off it they secretly can monitor these services.

It's just different heads depending on which case occurs.

Re:well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43935813)

Others will be lopped off it they secretly can monitor these services

As far as TPTB is concerned, if you can secretly monitor this service, you _are_ an asset for them

Need more Tor (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43932915)

Everybody needs to be using Tor on their mobile device [torproject.org] and running lots of servers [torproject.org] to help these people.

Re:Need more Tor (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43933121)

Everybody needs to be using Tor on their mobile device [torproject.org] and running lots of servers [torproject.org] to help these people.

If a government has every TCP ACK and window size to analyze at their leisure, how is Tor going to help?

Re:Need more Tor (1)

xenobyte (446878) | about a year ago | (#43933181)

Everybody needs to be using Tor on their mobile device [torproject.org] and running lots of servers [torproject.org] to help these people.

If a government has every TCP ACK and window size to analyze at their leisure, how is Tor going to help?

End-to-end encryption?

Re:Need more Tor (4, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | about a year ago | (#43934105)

You don't necessarily need to know the contents of a message to know what it's being used for. I expect voice conversations possess particular qualities that are very hard to disguise even through encryption and using Tor and recognized nodes from your mobile phone would be a dead giveaway you were up to something. There are plenty of ways that the telco and Saudi authorities could disrupt what you were up to.

Re:Need more Tor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43936049)

They would be able to see that the communication was encrypted, and just drop it.

Re:Need more Tor (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#43933201)

Because interception turns from 'one techie and a laptop' into 'small army of computer scientists and hundred-million-dollar datacenter network.' If they are going to be monitoring communications, make them work for it.

Re:Need more Tor (4, Insightful)

Cenan (1892902) | about a year ago | (#43933325)

I don't think that is how it works in Saudi Arabia. You might be able to hide what you're doing, but that doesn't stop them from hauling your ass off to prison and beating the what out of you. You can hide behind Tor all you like, if the offense is using Tor in the first place you're screwed.

Re:Need more Tor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43933637)

That's why I run my tor nodes on port 443. Not foolproof, but may help some people.

They can't tell you're using Tor (2)

foreverdisillusioned (763799) | about a year ago | (#43933909)

Not if you're using a bridge relay. A very powerful adversary could determine the existence of relays and flag you if you talk too much to them, but that's beyond the power of even a rather rich Middle Eastern country. https://www.torproject.org/docs/bridges [torproject.org]

Now, they could try to ban https as a way of indirectly banning Tor but I don't think that will go over too well for security reasons.

Re:Need more Tor (1)

mynamestolen (2566945) | about a year ago | (#43934087)

I don't think that is how it works in Saudi Arabia. You might be able to hide what you're doing, but that doesn't stop them from hauling your ass off to prison and beating the what out of you. You can hide behind Tor all you like, if the offense is using Tor in the first place you're screwed.

yeah PRISM is run by communists? Moron.

Re:Need more Tor (1)

mynamestolen (2566945) | about a year ago | (#43934097)

Sorry to original poster. Slashdot software says include the above post and it doesn't apply to the COMMENT on the post, which was what I responded to. More bad Karma for me.

Re:Need more Tor (1)

Deekin_Scalesinger (755062) | about a year ago | (#43934561)

Same with VPN service in the Middle East. Super unlikely they'll know WHAT you are sending, but the mere existence of VPN service in some of those countries means a very bad day for the hapless end user. Having run VPN services worldwide for people in this predicament, I have a good understanding of this (sadly).

Re:Need more Tor (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43934065)

WHY do i want to help these people?

They've been fucked up for thousands of years. Something tells me that's going to continue.

Re:Need more Tor (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | about a year ago | (#43934725)

Because they're not a "they", they're a huge set of individuals who differ from one another, in many cases by a great deal. If you're not keen to help those who want to resist their oppressors then that's your call, but many of us do.

Re:Need more Tor (1)

DrXym (126579) | about a year ago | (#43934073)

Tor is highly unlikely to facilitate realtime voice calls especially with the levels of traffic it could expect to receive if it could. I also expect that it would be reasonably straightforward for a phone network to disrupt it even if it were proven possible.

Re:Need more Tor (1)

sociocapitalist (2471722) | about a year ago | (#43934413)

Everybody needs to be using Tor on their mobile device [torproject.org] and running lots of servers [torproject.org] to help these people.

And then Tor will be blocked (if it isn't already).

Countries like Saudi would rather cut off the Internet altogether then lose control of it.

Good (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43932937)

Viber is malware anyhow.

If only... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43932955)

Man, I wish the summary would tell me, once and for all, whether the Saudi regulators warned these services that they'd be blocked. I have to know!

Not surprising (5, Insightful)

readingaccount (2909349) | about a year ago | (#43933005)

If you want to do business in a country, you have to follow the laws. Sounds like the Saudi authorities gave clear and fair warning that the service would be blocked if the capability for monitoring was not implemented, and yet Viber chose to disregard the warning. So they were blocked.

Having said that, I do NOT agree with these laws, clearly (because I'm on Slashdot). I'm also not one to just give a pass to any country's immoral laws because "that's just how they do things". The law sucks... but it's also clear what the law is in most countries and if you don't agree to do business and follow it, well, no surprises what will happen.

Not that it really matters too much. "Viber would be restored soon" translates to "we'll implement the monitoring requirements the Saudi's want, because fuck it, we like money and would rather kick up a fuss on the BBC than actually stick to our position and pull out of a hostile country."

Re:Not surprising (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43933477)

Indeed.

If I want to do business in the USA, then all my user's data has to go to the NSA.

At least the Saudi's are open about it.

Re:Not surprising (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | about a year ago | (#43934733)

Now now, not your users' data, just their metadata. That's just fine, I know because the Surpeme Court says so. ~

Re:Not surprising (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#44027109)

If you want to do business in a country, you have to follow the laws.

That's true neither as a moral nor as a factual statement. Lots of businesses are operating in violation of laws, from banks to pot growers. Furthermore, for some laws, it is your moral right, and perhaps duty, to violate them, like discriminatory laws or laws attempting to shield fraud or human rights abusers.

In the wake of the US NSA domestic spying (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43933017)

This seems absolutely trivial.

Don't Worry Saudi Arabia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43933023)

The United States is already monitoring it for you.

It's a surveillance app from Israel (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43933031)

Talmon Marco, ex Israeli IDF (he was the Chief Information Officer for the Israel military FFS) runs the company. They blocked it presumably because it is too-good-to-be-true free calls. Mostly likely surveillanceware paid for by the surveillance industry, since you have to pay for the servers somehow! You can't simply offer a free app and provide free servers and somehow everything pays for itself.

He moved to the UK, set up a lot of US companies, focussing on network management and VOIP. i.e. stuff suitable for intelligence gathering.

" Starting 1993, Mr. Marco served as CIO for the Israeli Defense Forces Central Command. In 1995, Mr. Marco Co-Founded Nortex Software, a developer of Civil Engineering software.In 1997 he Co-founded Expand Networks, a privately held, venture back, world leader in Application Traffic Management. Mr. Marco served as President at Expand Networks until 2004, at which point the company reached a run-rate of $20M revenue a year. In 1998, Mr. Marco co-founded iMesh, a social networking and music destination serving 10 million unique users, where he currently serves as President. Mr. Marco holds a degree in Computer Science and Management from the Tel-Aviv University."

http://www.chubbybrain.com/companies/guestcentric-systems/people/talmon-marco

If you look at the Wikipedia page, he tried to hide the origin of Viber.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Quinta222
"Hello, Quinta222. It looks like you are currently engaged in an edit war at Viber; the page was protected recently to stop the string of reversions between you and Utlguy, but it appears to have continued again. Please stop reverting edits to this page, and make an effort to discuss the edit on the article's talk page."

Yet it's clearly Israeli and he is/was clearly Israeli Army CIO.
http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/docview.asp?did=1000746993&fid=1725

Senator Dianne Feinstein, will no doubt defend it as legal.

Re:It's a surveillance app from Israel (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43933105)

Makes me wonder if this is the catch22 behind stuff like Privitize VPN on TBP.... but thats a wopper of an informative post. Makes a lot of sense the Saudi's would rage over the service. Surprised they are letting it back.

P.S. Saudi law is insane =/

P.S.P.S. This actually makes me feel a tiny bit better about the NSA. At least their only recording that my communications were secure and to whom (probably would make me a target though if I had a lot of secure calls to somewhere in Saudi). Which I wouldn't blame some paranoid person for wanting to do just to talk to family. That works for people in Saudi wanting to call out etc..

Re:It's a surveillance app from Israel (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year ago | (#43935611)

at to your P.P.S - just because we only know about the metadata because of a leak.. do you honestly believe it doesnt go deeper than that?

Re:It's a surveillance app from Israel (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43939393)

Well I think there was this cave in the Midwest (one of the largest underground cave systems). I saw a special on it from Nat Geo or Discovery or History or A&E. It was rumored at some point this facility had paper files on every person in the United States in rows and rows of giant filing cabinets. So it is very likely that this has been going on for a long time and you are absolutely correct it could go way deeper than just metadata. See PRISM. What is being done with all that info. I cannot really say for sure.

I spent a few hours raging at the issue yesterday and decided it would be better to just bury my head back in the sand until we get more information.

By the way some links of the facility I think I remember... it could be an annex to this or another one. This looks like its up for grabs on the real estate market though... and relatively cheap. Crazy how the world changes. Because this place use to be one of our top secret places during the cold war.

http://gsaauctions.gov/gsaauctions/aucdsclnk?sl=FTWOR713005001 [gsaauctions.gov]
http://www.almc.army.mil/alog/issues/MayJun99/MS353.htm [army.mil]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atchison_Storage_Facility [wikipedia.org]

There is a video of a truck driver driving through and delivering supplies leaked on a conspiracy nut site. But I think it is from after when the facility started to be decommissioned.

The facility I remember was rumored to be extremely large and indeed big enough to hold a file folder on everyone at the time 1980's. I suppose the government had to upgrade at some point.

I really wish I could afford a place like that... I would so have an underground lair if I could.

Following breadcrumbs... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43933143)

Diggin further

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expand_Networks

"Expand Networks, Ltd. was a Tel Aviv, Israel based provider of WAN Optimization solutions. The company was liquidated in 2011."
"Expand Networks was a privately held company, founded in 1998; initial financing was provided by Discount Investment Corporation, The Eurocom Group, Ophir Holdings, and a private group of investors, including Memco Software founder Israel Mezin. Additional investors joined in subsequent rounds of funding"
"In mid October 2011, following the requests of Plenus, one of the company's lenders, an Israeli court appointed a liquidator - Mr. Paz Rimer. The liquidator gradually terminated the company's employees [6] and eventually, on 11 January 2012 sold most of the assets of the company to Riverbed Technology, which immediately terminated all the company's products and ceased support.[7]"

Following the breadcrumbs, to Riverbed:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riverbed_Technology

Riverbed bought up a lot of network surveillance companies and products, e.g.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riverbed_Technology

"In 2010 Riverbed Technology purchased CACE[7] and took over as the primary sponsor of Wireshark. Ethereal development has ceased, and an Ethereal security advisory recommended switching to Wireshark.[8]"

Here they are buying a user graph analysis:
"Acquisition History...Mazu Networks...On February 20, 2009, Riverbed announced the completion of the acquisition of Mazu Networks. The Mazu products, which were renamed Cascade, analyze network traffic to provide information about the interactions of and dependencies between users, applications and systems."

Riverbed seem to also be in the cloud business too:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_storage_gateway

"A cloud storage gateway is a network appliance or server which resides at the customer premises and translates cloud storage APIs such as SOAP or REST to block-based storage protocols such as iSCSI or Fibre Channel or file-based interfaces such as NFS or CIFS.[1][2]"
"As of 2013, the key vendors dominating this market space are CTERA Networks, Emulex, Nirvanix, and Riverbed Technology.[4]"

Interesting, they seem to sell exactly the sort of kit the NSA must be buying in shedloads, plus a lot of network appliances industry must be buying. They even bought the company that owns the protocol that military uses to talk to its satellites! How that fits with the business, I don't quite know.

Viber app (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43933245)

Taking a look at the Viber app, "Viber allows you to text, call, and send photos and video messages worldwide for free to over 200 million users using 3G or Wifi"...." the app syncs with your mobile contact list"...

So the app grabs your contacts lists, there's the graph data right there, 200 million users a lot of expensive servers.

Trying to install it, it requires your GPS location, Microphone (no surprise there, its VOIP), Camera... Your accounts, Your Phone Calls, Directly call numbers, read phone status, and identity. Your social information, modify contacts, read call logs, read your contacts, read your social stream, write call logs, write your social stream....

It even gives itself permission to run at startup.

Motherload!

Watchtower? Bandoo aswell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43933421)

I can see he's behind iMesh, which from this seems to be overlapping with a lot of similar companies
http://www.spyware-techie.com/datamngr-dll-removal-guide

(Datamngr.dll) "The process known as Data Manager belongs to software Data Manager or Windows Searchqu Toolbar or Windows iLivid Toolbar or MediaBar or Searchqu Toolbar by Bandoo Media, inc (www.bandoo.com) or Discordia, LTD (www.bandoo.com) or iMesh (www.imesh.com) or Discordia (www.bandoo.com) or Bandoo Media (www.bandoo.com) or MusicLab (www.musiclab.com)."

Bandoo is another free app that helps itself to data. From Bandoos privacy page, I get their data claims, and address in Cyprus
http://www.bandoo.com/privacy_policy.php

"Bandoo may automatically receive and record certain non-personally identifiable information on its server logs from your browser, including your IP address, browser type, internet service provider (ISP), cookie information, and the webpage that a user visits. Bandoo collects non-personally identifiable information for general purposes, including but not limited to analyzing trends, administering the site, tracking user movements, conducting research, and providing anonymous reporting to internal and external clients. Bandoo will not link any Personal Information, including e-mail addresses, with aggregate data of its users."

Also a Cyprus based company
"Bandoo Media, Inc, Attention: Privacy Policy Administrator, 40 Kimonos St.3095 Limassol, Cyprus"

A search against that address, reveals Viber:

http://slideme.org/application/viber
" Viber Media, Inc., Attention: Privacy Policy Administrator, 40 Kimonos St.3095 Limassol, Cyprus."

Fixbee, which fixes your PC for free by defragmenting your hard drive, all for free:
http://www.fixbee.com/contact.html

Fatasticgames, a free set of games
http://www.fantastigames.com/contact_us.html

"For any question, you can send us an email to support@fantastigames.com You can also contact us by sending a postal mail to:
FantastiGames support, 40 kimonos St. 3095 Limassol Cyprus "

http://www.ftalk.com/contact_us.php
"The only way to chat with your Facebook friends right from your desktop!"
"Why fTalk?"
"Faster and more accessible than Facebook chat"
"No need to open Facebook"
"Get notified when friends come online"
"Update your status right from the app"
"Free and easy to use"

Cool, a free app that interjects itself between you and Facebook, I wonder how it pays its bills.
"fTalk offices: 40 Kimonos St. 3095 Limassol, Cyprus. Email Address: contact@ftalk.com"

Where have I seen that address before?

Bullvid FREE DOWNLOAD Manager
http://www.bullvid.com/contact_us.php

Do you see a pattern here?

http://www.searchnu.com/privacy/
SearchNu, a search bar that puts itself between you and your search engine. Also the same address, also for free.

Koyote, lots of free software here, seems to be a load of browser plugins...
http://www.koyotesoft.com/en/products.html

Watchtower asset management (watchtower??? the sense of humor there!)
http://www.corporationwiki.com/Unknown/3095-LIMASSOL-CYPRUS/watchtower-asset-management-llc/28452877.aspx
Same address

Yoav Gavish, Polmont Ventures (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43933799)

Bandoo's registered DMCA contact is "Yoav Gavish" of Polmont Ventures
http://www.copyright.gov/onlinesp/agents/b/bandoo_media.pdf

Sharevid, synclib.com lots of links to investigate, also telephone numbers

Tel Number: +1 (917) 732-1834
Fax Number: +1 (917) 732-1833

Searching on that telephone number:
JZip, a free alternative to WinZip.....
http://www.jzip.com/dmca_policy.php

Also seem to be UnThreat, a free anti-virus software (read the comments on this forum related to it.... yikes)
http://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=312853&page=7

That telephone number seems to be a New York phone number, and a landline at that
http://phone.lookup.bz/1-9177321834

Watchtower (ha ha ha funny men) Asset Management, shares an address with Black Chalk Asset Protection
http://www.corporationwiki.com/Unknown/3095-LIMASSOL-CYPRUS/black-chalk-asset-protection-llc/28119315.aspx

Is that a rental office building?? I don't see a suit number, which is normally what you see is shared offices. For the moment, I'll assume businesses at this address are linked and search on them.

http://www.florida-companies-info.com/black-chalk-asset-protection-llc-f5q7/
Yep, Attain Management in the Seychelles again. Same management company pops up.

This doesn't smell like NSA, or even Russian mafia. My guess is Israeli front companies with Seychelles money route. Funnelling into something in Florida (because the Florida link keeps popping up). Not really a lot I can find out here. Lots of links but no hard proof.

Re: Viber app (0)

moshiko (311814) | about a year ago | (#43933653)

Get an iPhone - so many Android apps require too many permissions.
I don't defend viber - they are just as bad as the rest of them but unlike in iPhone - you need to either accept everything or else you can't use the app.
On an iPhone - you simply allow or disallow specific permissions and the developers need to cope with it.

Re: Viber app (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43934313)

Whereas Apple ... simply doesn't tell you.

example:
http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/300887/scitech/technology/apple-malware-mobileconfig-allows-remote-hijacking-of-iphones-ipads

Soooo much better.

Re:Viber app (1)

macshit (157376) | about a year ago | (#43933929)

Pretty much every VOIP app on Android (and there are a lot of them) seems to require the same laundry-list of permissions though... as far as I can figure, it's more due to lazy devs (who know most users won't even notice) than sinister ones...

Re:Viber app (1)

complete loony (663508) | about a year ago | (#43935551)

Don't blame the application developers here. The poorly designed permission structure of android is mostly to blame. Any voice and text application that wants to integrate with the rest of android, needs to ask for nearly all of the permissions.

But this app seems totally dodgy. Free communications? No adverts? Where the hell are they getting the funding to run any servers and application development?

"If you aren't paying for the product, you are the product".

Re:Viber app (1)

macshit (157376) | about a year ago | (#44026095)

But this app seems totally dodgy. Free communications? No adverts? Where the hell are they getting the funding to run any servers and application development?

I agree with you, and I'd probably never install because it doesn't pass the smell test, but every VOIP app on android seems the same way (crazy permissions, no adverts, free install and free use). That includes those which are massively popular bastions of the establishment, and so presumably considered "respectable" (skype, kakaotalk, etc). [Kakaotalk at least seems to have some sort of attempt at its own store ecosystem integrated with it, but basic use is completely free.]

The entire app ecosystem seems rather dodgy come to think of it, but it continues to steamroller along...

Re:Viber app (1)

complete loony (663508) | about a year ago | (#44026661)

Then again, if they are sending you an SMS to verify your ownership of the number, can they gain any revenue from that?

Re: It's a surveillance app from Israel (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43933249)

Weird... A guy who runs a tech startup was a higher ranking guy in the IT structure of the military of a country with compulsory military service? No SIR! I bet most if them worked in the mess hall.

Re:It's a surveillance app from Israel (2)

Bert64 (520050) | about a year ago | (#43933291)

Another reason why all these isolated proprietary messaging services are a bad thing...

No country is looking to ban email, although they may require you to use local email services (which they can monitor easily). You can choose which service you want to trust, and anyone you talk to is free to make the same decision. The same is also true of XMPP and SIP.

If you want truly private communication, you should be using an open source encryption package on top of the service (eg OTR, GPG etc), not trusting the word of a foreign corporation. And in order to do this, you need at least some level of openness in order to connect your encryption system into the service in a way which doesn't compromise its integrity or render it impractical to use. Many of these proprietary services require you to use their binary client, which may not even offer a plugin interface at all and if it does it still has access to the plaintext so you've no easy way to be sure it's not sending that along too.

Using your own infrastructure for transporting the messages and open protocols for the service is also obviously vastly preferable to a binary blob talking to an unknown third party over an unknown proprietary protocol.

Re: It's a surveillance app from Israel (5, Interesting)

moshiko (311814) | about a year ago | (#43933487)

Since the army service in Israel is mandatory, this ridiculous claim is that every Israeli company is working for the army.
Coming from another leading Israeli VoIP company myself - I can state that the only security forces ever approaching us were American - with their CALEA program.
We refused to cooperate.

Hello Moshiko, did I say every? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43934045)

"Since the army service in Israel is mandatory, this ridiculous claim is that every Israeli company is working for the army." ... the ex IDF CIO, sets up a company in *Cyprus*, with lots of companies providing free services that collect info in exchange, Wikipedia flags an edit war with a user trying to hide the Israel link.... the obvious question pops up, who pays the bills for these free apps, whose the customer for that data. It's a surveillance app, because these apps capture data in exchange for the use of the app. I have a few samples of the browser plugin they install now on my machine for analysis. The question then becomes the customer, I assume its Israel because of his history, the Cyprus link, the names, all scream Israel. That doesn't mean *every* Israel business is doing that.

You are "Moshiko Nayman" presumably, of Partner Communications Company Ltd?

I'm not vouching for your company, but when I dig into it, it looks like a company to me, a regular boring company. Something the digging into the Viber app doesn't suggest.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Partner_Communications_Company

Boring ordinary company. If you want to defend Viber feel free, the more I dig, the more alarm bells go off with that company.

Re:Hello Moshiko, did I say every? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43934223)

AFAIK cyprus has much nicer tax rates than Israel

Re:Hello Moshiko, did I say every? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43934369)

So wait ... an Israeli owner of an app that's popular in Arab countries tries to hide the Israel link ? Must be a conspiracy !

I guess you think Anne Frank was just dodging taxes too, perhaps ?

In case it's unclear to anyone religious discrimination against Jews is very much alive in muslim countries worldwide. Muslims online always claim that this is because it's all one big conspiracy against muslims and "they have to defend themselves" and similar claims. Needless to say, the Jewish religion was not created as a conspiracy against islam, nor was Israel created as a conspiracy against arabs, muslims, or anyone. It is plain to anyone but the most naive that the vast majority of muslims living in North Africa/Middle East and Asia are racists. I say this due to the plain evidence of this that can be found in the LAWbooks of those countries and the attitudes of the press in those countries (no month goes by without a Saudi paper claiming Jews ate some poor muslim schoolgirl). And Iran, well judge for yourself : Iranian leader writes article detailing how Jews are controlling Iranians through Sorcery [algemeiner.com] .

Oh and the non-PC talk : I am sure that this muslim racism is just extremely widespread exclusively outside the US. I am not claiming the US doesn't have it's share of lunatics claiming all sorts of things, but anyone looking knows that muslim online forums in English are not just innocently joking about Jews, they are not a "tiny minority", nor is it a few lunatics.

Show me da money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43934617)

"So wait ... an Israeli owner of an [free] app that's popular in Arab countries tries to hide the Israel [CIO of IDF Military] link ? Must be a conspiracy !....In case it's unclear to anyone religious discrimination against Jews is very much alive in muslim countries worldwide"

Trying to play the religious discrimination card? We don't even know his religion!

I can see he's the ex Chief Information Officer of the Israeli Defence Force. I can see its a free app, that pays its way by magic pixie dust (OK, maybe not magic pixie dust, but it does pay somehow).

I can see he shares offices with Bandoo, fixbee, fantastigames, ftalk, bullvid, searchnu, koyotesoft, Watchtower asset management, Black Chalk Asset Protection.

I can see bits of the same code is in Bandoo and Viber and the same guy behind iMesh
http://www.wired.com/entertainment/music/news/2005/11/69457

I can see the business model of Bandoo apps is to intercept searches, file downloads, facebook etc. and monetize them with magic pixie dust (OK maybe not magic pixie dust, but is does pay somehow).

I can see the funding for his other projects, e.g. Expand Networks, are they the same backers providing magic pixie dust for Viber? (OK maybe not magic pixie dust, but money)

" Discount Investment Corporation [Israel], The Eurocom Group [Israel], Ophir Holdings [Don't Know], and a private group of investors, including Memco Software founder Israel Mezin. [Israel]"

Forbes says no:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2013/05/07/free-calling-app-viber-jumps-to-desktop-hits-200-million-users/

"So far, his company has no venture capital investors and has yet to book any revenue. In fact its founder and CEO, Talmon Marco, said friends and family of the Cyprus-based company’s founders had helped put $20 million into the company. “It’s not a cheap operation,” he said, adding that Viber employs 120 people, the workforce being divided between Israel and Minsk, Belarus."

Cool friends and family put in $20 million, and he's Cyprus based, that's funny, wasn't iMesh based in New York? Doesn't Bandoos DMCA officer have a New York lelephone number, yet an Cyprus address?

http://www.linkedin.com/in/talmonmarco
" Talmon Marco, Obsessive user at Viber Media, Greater New York City Area "

Greater New York, extends to the med??

Re:Hello Moshiko, did I say every? (1)

moshiko (311814) | about a year ago | (#43934667)

Where do I begin..?

a. Let's do this Nayman guy a favour and leave him out of this - you seem to like google - I'm not hiding, you can find me.
I'm not posting as an anonymous user you know.
BTW - Partner is a cellular operator, not a VoIP company (you can google this up).
b. Company in Cyprus -
Intel has a large facility in Israel, thanks to overwhelming tax benefits they got. I'm sure you can make the connection.
c. If I had a nickel for every company that seems to be out there picking eye balls with no real money making solution...
Like so many others, they believe that if they know everyone's address books, they are going to be rich.
Not defending them, I'm not even using their services for that reason, but being an Israeli company has nothing to do with that - you can find companies from all over the world with the same not so smart agenda.
d. This guy clumsily tried to hide the fact the company is Israeli:
I didn't know it's a secret, everyone knows it's an Israeli company.
Can you blame him though? reading your post reveals exactly why:
Being an Israeli is bad for business, you can always find people like you that will not want to do business with Israelis.
You can wrap it in any colour you'd like - the true reason for your post is not tech related, and your google espionage lead you to the conclusion you had before you even started looking into it.

Re: It's a surveillance app from Israel (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43934481)

there's a difference between mandatory service and staying on as an intelligence officer followed by getting out with a hefty bankroll that you use to run telecom companies...

Re: It's a surveillance app from Israel (2)

moshiko (311814) | about a year ago | (#43934743)

I really don't know this company or this guy, but I can assume he is on army reserve service, just like so many others after retiring from the army, meaning that he still retains his ranks and is called for service from time to time.
I do the same, about once a year (in a combat unit, and for you trolls - I'm also a political anti occupation activist, and yes, the two roles don't collide).
If you seriously believe the IDF is involved with Viber, I advise you to roll a good deal of aluminium foil around your head and never use any electronic device again.

Re: It's a surveillance app from Israel (1)

GLMDesigns (2044134) | about a year ago | (#43935337)

If I had mod points I would mod you up. Too others: it's not simply his statements it's that his name is attached to it as well.

Re: It's a surveillance app from Israel (1)

cffrost (885375) | about a year ago | (#43936711)

I appreciate your (claimed) anti-occupation activism, as well as your properly naming the element from which common household foil is made; thank you. :o)

Re:It's a surveillance app from Israel (1)

davydagger (2566757) | about a year ago | (#43937733)

the only refrence to his status as CIO of the IDF was the link you provided, and the rest of the web refrences his army experiance as 4 years, the manditory service every Israeli does. No one becomes a high ranking officer in 4 years in any army, from being a conscript, or basic enlistee.

They only just figured this out. (1)

mjwx (966435) | about a year ago | (#43933075)

"The head of the messaging application Viber has said people in Saudi Arabia have had basic freedoms taken away, after his service was blocked there.

OK, they only figured that the Saudi's have taken away basic freedoms from people after they blocked viber?

Viber? (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43933087)

Really guys, I mean, really? The porn in that country consists of a girl showing a little ankle... and your service is named Viber. What did you expect?!

Re:Viber? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43933881)

You're an idiot.

Re:Viber? (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43938459)

You're an idiot.

I'm an American. It's expected that we make jokes about other countries that are only sorta funny, but really insulting. If we didn't do it, the British might not have anything to laugh at...

This could be happening in the USA in few years... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43933273)

With all the excuses of FUD, the NSA is only one step from doing this now, in the US.
So how free are we, really?
I fear for our countries future. History shows us that we are starting down a slippery slope
handing down such powers to secretive branch of the government without any verifiable
checks and balances.

Re:This could be happening in the USA in few years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43937987)

I fear for our countries future.

So do I...So do I...

Distributed solutions the way to go (3, Informative)

vik (17857) | about a year ago | (#43933289)

Not just a Saudi problem - Obama thinks snooping on messages is just fine and dandy as long as it is not done to members of his Master Race. So far. May I once more bring people's attention to the Open and Free SMS encryption via the Textsecure Android app [whispersystems.org] , and the disaster- (and government-) resistant mesh networking of Project Byzantium [project-byzantium.org] which now runs on a Raspberry Pi. They are becoming more and more relevant, and soon we shall have to switch to darknets to do anything non-commercial. Get with the program early, folks.

Re:Distributed solutions the way to go (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43933327)

Thanks vik. It is definitely time to start investing in these kinds of projects.

Re:Distributed solutions the way to go (1)

adolf (21054) | about a year ago | (#43933705)

But my Dude won't run weird stuff on his phone, and my neighbors don't even know what a router is except that it gives them Teh Interwebs.

I'm convinced of the usefulness of these tools just on their very basis, but creating locally-useful momentum is not so easy in this sea of inertia.

Re:Distributed solutions the way to go (1)

GLMDesigns (2044134) | about a year ago | (#43935389)

This is one of the reasons I've been more than a little hesitant to use cloud computing. As hard drive space gets smaller and cheaper I will simply have physical hard drivess. For now an exabyte flash drive should do just fine. :')

Let's be fair here. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43933319)

Try running a skype-like service on US soil that leeches info from you. And give the government NO way to tap into it. See what happens.

Now, imagine that service is run by ex-al-quaeda members. Or pakistani extremists.

Of course, they would let them do as they please! It's the land of the free after all!

Re:Let's be fair here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43933527)

Try running a skype-like service on US soil that leeches info from you. And give the government NO way to tap into it. See what happens.

So, what happens? Seriously, I don't know, tell me.

Can you give some examples of people running a skype-like service etc., giving the government NO way to tap it and what happened to them?

Re:Let's be fair here. (1)

Deekin_Scalesinger (755062) | about a year ago | (#43934593)

Agreed. I have a armory stuffed with digital widgets that give the Government no way to tap me. I use them a lot when I have to. I also live two blocks from the US Vice President and haven't had anyone knocking at my door, nor do I expect to.

Re:Let's be fair here. (1)

Deekin_Scalesinger (755062) | about a year ago | (#43934609)

(and yes, I suppose I am giving too big of a hint to the Powers That Be concerning my whereabouts, but truth be told, I'd relish the battle. As a card carrying member of the EFF and a couple of other organizations, it would thrill me to find out how it would go down. Since I don't do anything "wrong", I say bring it on!)

Everyone, say "Allah Akbar" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43933395)

The Israeli Government has uploaded viruses into almost every cell phone in Islamistan.
The malware monitors audio around the phone, and sends it back to Israel via Israeli satellites and underground drones.
Most insidiously, the software is triggered by the words Allah Akbar.
So mum's the word, Muslims.
You never know just who might be listening and recording.

Re:Everyone, say "Allah Akbar" (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year ago | (#43933753)

The Israeli Government has uploaded viruses into almost every cell phone in Islamistan. The malware monitors audio around the phone, and sends it back to Israel via Israeli satellites and underground drones. Most insidiously, the software is triggered by the words Allah Akbar. So mum's the word, Muslims. You never know just who might be listening and recording.

Oh how I wish this were true

Re:Everyone, say "Allah Akbar" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43936807)

Everyone, say "Allah Akbar"

Allah Akbar!
 
...

Wait a minute...
 
...

Where's the kaboom? There was supposed to be an Earth-shattering kaboom...

US is worse (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43933597)

I guess the US government would have blocked Skype and other services as well if they were told they couldn't snoop.

Bastards (0)

oobayly (1056050) | about a year ago | (#43933821)

Now they're not allowing women to pleasure themselves? That's just sick.

Bad vibes ? (1)

axonis (640949) | about a year ago | (#43934007)

Nothing like a cup of coffee, in the morning, @ Starbucks, OR don't they offer Arabic style ?

Men only (0)

longk (2637033) | about a year ago | (#43934015)

He must mean the rights of Saudi MEN. I don't think the women there had any to begin with.

Re:Men only (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43935415)

He must mean the rights of Saudi MEN. I don't think the women there had any to begin with.

Ha. Saudi men have no rights either.

Male or female, the govt of Saudi Arabia can throw you in jail whenever they want for any reason they want. And thoroughly torture you if they feel like it.

Well (0)

sociocapitalist (2471722) | about a year ago | (#43934403)

Not often you hear the words 'basic freedoms" and "Saudi Arabia" in the same sentence...

Considering that 49 people there can read (0)

gelfling (6534) | about a year ago | (#43934441)

well legally... at any rate, what's the real harm?

Good ridance (1)

danbob999 (2490674) | about a year ago | (#43934465)

I hope one day we will get rid of all these closed, proprietary messaging protocols.
Too bad it's not for the good reason in this case.

What about other services? (1)

joshuao3 (776721) | about a year ago | (#43934785)

Does this article suggest that all other messaging that are operational in Saudi Arabia are being monitored? Would something like Facebook chat, if it's transported over SSL, be considered encrypted? If it's operating in SA (not sure if it is... just asking) does that mean that the SA government has been given the "keys to the castle" so to speak?

Re:What about other services? (1)

bmo (77928) | about a year ago | (#43935385)

>Does this article suggest that all other messaging that are operational in Saudi Arabia are being monitored?

Of course all other messaging is being monitored.

They're just following the US's lead.

--
BMO

NOT providing means of monitoring? (0)

Shag (3737) | about a year ago | (#43935109)

Really? This is an app that, at least on iOS, refuses to run if you turn off notifications. I tried it a month or so ago, and if I recall, had to agree to have my phone make noise when messages arrived them and display the full text of them, even when locked. If I tried tot turn off any of those features, it refused to work until I turned them all back on. Anybody around me could "monitor" that easily. It's about the most indiscrete, "hey look I'm getting a message!" attention-whoring app of its sort.

Double Take (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | about a year ago | (#43937745)

I originally read the article title as "Saudi Arabia Blocks Vibrator Messaging Service".

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