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US Airline Calls Cops On Viber Founder For Using His Own VoIP App Via In-Flight Wi-Fi

Talmon Marco, founder of the VoIP app Viber (the sixth most popular all-time free iPhone app), was met at La Guardia airport this evening by a waiting posse of port authority cops. What did he do? Well, it’s not quite as outrageous as Alec Baldwin getting in trouble for playing Words With Friends, but it’s still a bit ridiculous.

Apparently, Marco had been using the GoGo in-flight Wi-Fi on a Delta flight to make call through his VoIP (Voice-over-Internet-Protocol) and free texting app Viber. A flight attend came over to ask that he end the call, claiming an FAA rule against VoIP use will in the air, but Marco knew full well that no such rule exists and told her as much.

The rule , in point of fact, is a preference of the airline, not the agency:

While passengers are welcome to access the web, U.S. airlines offering Wi-Fi service block the use of inflight calling using Skype or similar applications. This is not an FAA restriction; they are simply responding to the overwhelming majority of their customers, who prefer silent communications to the public nature of Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) calls.

Another flight attendent was called in, who claimed it was a rule not of the FAA but of the GoGo terms of service, and after he protested once more, he said Marco was being difficult and handed him an FAA brochure, and when Marco took a picture of it, the flight attendent said he was going to have the cops waiting for Marco at the gate.

Jeez Louise! Considering that the VoIP rule — be it at the airline’s discretion or the agency’s — is in place not for flight safety but cabin quiet, this all seems a bit OTT.

In the end, the cops ultimately decided it wasn’t such a big deal, and Marco went merrily on his way. [TheNextWeb]