Director, Group Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Rakuten Group, Inc.
We applaud the generosity of our Chairman and CEO Mickey Mikitani in his support as a private citizen in defense of Ukraine’s government and its democratic system. We hope that his financial support of the people of Ukraine and its democratic system will inspire others to contribute to their welfare.
Rakuten Viber is a subsidiary of Rakuten Group, Inc. In our 25 years in operation, we have always been true to our ethos that business should seek to empower society. When we acquired Viber in 2014, it was in no small part because its mission of providing safe, secure communication for users everywhere closely aligned with our goal of building a better society through technology and responsible innovation. As a safe, secure and private platform for users to share information and connect with loved ones, we believe that the best path for Viber and its users is to maintain free and open service worldwide.
In support of users in Ukraine, Russia and throughout the region, we have initiated a program for free Viber Out calls where users can reach any phone number, landline or mobile, in 34 countries around the world. We have taken strong steps to combat disinformation and are actively promoting sources of truth on the platform. We also want to be absolutely clear that Viber is not sharing and will never share information with any government about their citizens’ lawful and free speech activities. Finally, we are removing all advertising in Ukraine and Russia from the Viber app to ensure that no one will profit from activity on our app at this time.
All of these factors lead us to believe that blocking our service in Russia or any other country will harm the people of Ukraine by preventing free, private and secure communication and eliminating a key communications channel for fighting disinformation.
At this key moment in world history when so many private citizens’ lives hang in the balance, the best course of action we can take to empower society is to uphold freedom of speech, freedom of connection, and the freedom to be private. Rakuten Group and Rakuten Viber stand unwavering in our commitment to uphold these freedoms now and always for the people of Ukraine, for the people of Russia, and for people everywhere.