Wed. Sep 18th, 2019




Viber CEO Talmon Marco Vows to Restore VoIP Service in Saudi Arabia

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Folks in Saudi Arabia may not need to worry about the government-induced blackout of Viber for too long as Talmon Marco, founder and CEO of Viber Inc., has vowed to restore the service — a “top priority” for the company right now — and find a way to avoid being blocked by Saudi Arabia in the future.

In case you weren’t aware, Saudi Arabia had blocked access to Viber’s calling and messaging service because “it does not currently meet the regulatory requirements and laws in Saudi Arabia,” according to Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), who regulates all telecommunications in the country. Marco said the company has had no correspondence with the CITC in the aftermath of the ban.

“We regret this block,” Viber’s CEO said in an interview with Arab News. “Saudi people, like the people of any other country, should have the right to communicate with their friends and family. It’s a shame that the Saudi authorities feel otherwise.”

Viber is working on technology to “circumvent” the block and restore service to customers

In addition, Marco also said that the company “would not rest until the service has been restored in Saudi Arabia.” Marco revealed that Viber is developing a technology that will “circumvent this block,” which will be “rolled out in phases” starting in the first step scheduled to roll out in “a couple of weeks.”

“The CITC did not communicate directly with us, but some of the mobile operators in Saudi Arabia were trying to obtain additional data about the inner workings of the Viber network,” Marco said. “We believe their objective was to try and find ways to obtain the contents of messages and calls on Viber. We did not provide this information, even though a better understanding of the Viber network wouldn’t have helped them.

Viber would not provide contents of messages and calls to KSA Authorities

“While we realize the easy business decision is to give KSA authorities free access to user data, thereby ensuring that we continue to do business in KSA, we do not believe this is the right decision.”

He said the company’s policy of protecting its users and respecting its privacy policy is far more important than protecting the short-term prospects of its business.

Many residents of the Kingdom have been frustrated at the blocking — it has effectively cut off communications with families and friends a world away — some of which have contacted us for a workaround. Unfortunately, we don’t have one yet, but as mentioned, Viber is working on such a solution, so hold on for a couple of weeks. We’ll keep you updated on further developments.