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Phone Apps Millions Using¬ Made in ’’Israel’’

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By Nour Rida

our mobile phone runs interesting applications (apps.), even if it is not of the smartphone platform generation including iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and Windows Mobile.

Free apps. have invaded the telecoms markets and have shown high resilience, with some companies becoming a significant force in this world.
Two question marks remain on some of the most outstanding applications, such as Viber, Jahjah, Fring, and Truecaller: Fully Free? Made in "Israel" ?

Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese and Arab people have been using these applications, in light of the state and people's ignorance of the fact that these applications are "Israeli" products. By that, the applications breach their privacy and security and they breach the "Israeli" Products Boycott Law. Yes, these apps are "Israeli" made, like proves the Viber application which is enlisted on the "Israeli" ministry of trade website

How Do These Function?

Telecoms and IT technical expert Zein Khoeiri explained to how these applications work.

"These applications function just like any other software, but with slight differences:
In Viber, there is no need to register a username and password or either login; you just have to activate Viber using your phone number once; then Viber will scan your phonebook and automatically recognize other Viber users in your contact list who have already activated it."

Khoeiri noted that the service is fully free, in viber-to-viber calls and sms using 3G or Wifi.

Fring, another application which provides free services also using independent servers, imposes the end user to register a username and password to be able to use its service, he explained.

Viber Media, Inc., is an "Israeli"-based company that has developed a smartphone application that allows users to talk and text for free. After just 13 months, Viber has surpassed 50 million users, with more than 1 billion minutes talked and 1 billion text messages sent per month. 

Furthermore, Khoeiri noted "Fring is basically free chatting software like MSN and Yahoo, which supports text chatting, audio and video calls to other Fring contacts. However, Fring has the FringOut service, which allows you to make paid international calls".

"You just have to buy some credits, and then do phone calls to GSM carriers using the Fring mobile application."noted Khoeiri.

Jajah also imposes the user to register using his email, phone number and a password.

Moreover, he noted that it is possible to install Jajah on mobile but it is not required, because the service can be used using the web browser directly. But he said it is seems to be a commercial product to a certain extent, as it is not a free service at all.

Sensitive Permission Required

The expert noted that these applications require sensitive information in order for a user to benefit from the service and complete registration.

"Viber requires some sensitive permissions to be granted to the application such as reading and manipulating the contact list of the SIM card (or the phone), and directly call phone numbers and send sms messages, he said adding "The data and information are stored online, so other parties might be able to reach it if they managed to hack Viber's servers: "The copy of your address book (names and phones) is stored on a live database."

Khoeiri pointed out that even though the Viber website claims to take reasonable precaution to protect Personal Information, yet, it says it cannot guarantee that Personal Information will not be subject to unauthorized access.

As the case is for Viber, Fring also requires sensitive permissions regarding the SIM card."

Concerning the deactivation of an account, it is possible yet the address book will be deleted from Viber's servers after 45 days the deactivation.

"The application doesn't seem to save an online copy of the contact list. However it also do not guarantee unauthorized access to their online data in the privacy policies. The online data might be the usernames and passwords registered", he noted

One slight difference, the expert points out, that it is impo
ssible to delete a Fring account.

"Jajah too requires sensitive permissions also regarding the SIM card, and does not guarantee unauthorized access to the online data of the user, as says the privacy policy of the website,"Khoeiri further elaborated.

TrueCaller-Who's Calling?

TrueCaller's service is completely different from the above applications, Khoeiri explained.

"TrueCaller has nothing to do with audio calls, but it is concerned with revealing the numbers of unknown callers or message senders, and has a huge database of international phone numbers with the names of the owners," he detailed the process through which it works.
Khoeiri clarified that "after installation, true caller intercepts incoming and outgoing phone calls or text messages, then automatically sends an encoded query containing the phone number to its online servers, which will in turn respond with the number owner's name".
Yet, one similarity it shares with the above mentioned applications, Khoeiri explicated, that TrueCaller requires the same sensitive permissions and is also able to collect necessary data such as your contact list and send it to its servers as they mentioned in their privacy policy :"Further data may also be collected if you activate the CallerID+ service..."

"In TrueCaller, everyone can reach the stored information because it is publically available. It requires no registration; it automatically creates a unique ID for each user after installation and initialization," he added. 

Bottomline to how these apps work: Your phone number or personal email is your account, your phonebook is stored online or on the server of the company. These data are subject to manipulation and use upon your approval, and there is no guarantee your personal info will not be accessed without authorization.


Depending on the above technical analysis, expert Khoeiri stated that these apps. "cannot be trusted, even if they claim that they do not disclose the information to third parties.

 In addition to Viber Media, more than 20 "Israeli" companies will be showcasing their technology at the annual CTIA Convention in New Orleans in the summer of 2012.

"These applications are spyware applications because they ask for wide access and permissions. By agreeing their terms of services, a user is giving the application the right to anonymously and automatically collect data about the device and the user himself," he underscored. Also, Khoeiri highlighted that it is possible for all these apps to record each and every call done by the users.

For instance, Viber's privacy policy says: "You agree that we may collect and use technical data and related information, including but not limited to technical information about Your mobile device, system and application software, and peripherals, that is gathered periodically to facilitate the provision of software updates, product support and other services to You related to the Licensed Application."

As for TrueCaller's Terms: "Users should provide user information, e.g. passwords and contact lists, regarding third party services, e.g. to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, necessary for the application to interoperate with such third party services. In that case you agree that we store, process and transfer also that information within the limits outlined above and we undertake not use or transfer the information for any other purpose, or to any other third party, than required in order to obtain functionality in such third party services."

Apps Op. Rooms, Breach of Boycott law

The applications are very interesting, beneficial, and tempting to market consumers. On this note, Lebanese MP and Brigadier Gen. Walid Sukariyeh said that such made in "Israel" services are very dangerous, noting "These serve as "Israeli" surveillance and operation rooms, which implies that the msgs and calls can be manipulated for security reasons."

He also noted that such applications records and enable extracting any phone calls, as the terms of use explain the data is totally accessible. The viber service for instance has access to the personal information and data of more than 300 thousand Lebanese registered to this service, if not more."

Sukariyeh explained that the free services provided are a "bate" to attract users, thus to achieve security goals all in the framework of a "technological soft warfare".

These apps. are also products, and the boycott of Zionist products should be applicable on these applications. The law prohibits trade and economic relations with the Jewish state, and penalizes countries and companies that do business with "Israel".
Probably we should wait for an answer from Haisam Bawab, head of Lebanon's "Israeli" boycott office at the Ministry of Economics and Trade.

FYI: Who Are the Staff Members of Viber, JahJah, Fring?

After tracking a list of staff members working in the three companies, who have posted their IDs online in public, the following was the fruits-- Viber, Jahjah, and Fring Staff: ALL MADE IN "ISRAEL" .