Brazilian Lawmakers Threaten to Crack Down on Internet Freedom

Matt Sandy – Time, 01/20/2016

Brazil’s politicians are on a collision cause with the country’s young generation of YouTube addicts over planned restrictions on the Internet.

The country’s congress is debating a series of bills that would mean Internet users in Brazil would have to provide their full name, home address and taxpayer ID to every website they use. Those insulted by online content could apply for it to be removed from the Internet. Penalties for defamation would increase.

Brazil is one of the world’s biggest markets for Facebook and YouTube, and Brazilians spent twice as long on social networks as the global average. Freedom of speech campaigners say the politicians are trying to stifle a new wave of criticism and mockery that has flourished online since the digital revolution.

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Brazil’s Digital Backlash

Robert Muggah, Nathan B. Thompson, The New York Times, 01/12/2016

A São Paulo judge sent shock waves across Brazil last month with a ruling that required Brazilian telecommunications operators to block the use of the instant messaging platform WhatsApp for 48 hours. Less than 13 hours later, another São Paulo judge reversed the decision, restoring service. But in the meantime, as many as 100 million Brazilians had been seriously inconvenienced, and civil libertarians around the world looked on with dismay.

Brazilians take their social media very seriously. The country has one of the fastest growing populations of Internet users in the world. Online tools like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp are used not only to express opinions; they are an affordable alternative to exorbitantly priced Brazilian telecom providers. One recent study in Brazil found that WhatsApp was used by 93 percent of those surveyed who had Internet access.

The official reason for the judge’s decision to suspend WhatsApp was because its parent company, Facebook, refused to comply with requests to provide personal information and communications records to prosecutors in an investigation into organized crime and drug trafficking. This is not the first time that the Brazilian authorities have jousted with tech companies. Notwithstanding the seriousness of the crimes being investigated, the judge’s action was reckless and represents a potentially longer-term threat to the freedoms of Brazilians.

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Venture Capital Heads to Brazil, Defying Economic Slump

Jonathan Levin – Bloomberg Business, 5/4/2015

To understand the venture capital scene in Brazil, follow the smartphones — not the economy.

That’s the message from Doug Leone, a partner at Sequoia Capital, an early investor in both Google Inc. and LinkedIn Corp. His firm committed funds last year to Sao Paulo-based Nubank, a technology-based financial-services company.

Local startups are reaping the benefits of a global venture capital community that’s hunting for markets with large, uptapped bases of Internet-using consumers. The current economic malaise aside, Brazil fits the bill: Tens of millions of people joined the middle class during a decade-long commodities boom.

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Brazilian Web Provider Fined $1.6 Million For Selling Browsing Data to Advertisers

Ed Taylor – Bloomberg BNA, 8/4/2014

In a first-of-its-kind enforcement action in Brazil, the Justice Ministry recently fined the country’s largest telecommunications company Oi $1.6 million for invading the privacy of subscribers to its broadband Internet service by without consent tracking their Web usage and selling the information to behavioral advertisers.

Amaury Oliva, director of the Justice Ministry’s Department of Consumer Defense and Protection (DPDC), told Bloomberg BNA July 28 that the department began to investigate Oi in 2010 based on allegations it had partnered with Phorm Inc.—a U.K.-based online advertising company—to develop a program to monitor Internet activity.

Phorm was at the heart of investigations by U.K. and European Union officials regarding the use of Phorm tracking software in trials involving the U.K. telecommunications company BT.

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Why Brazil may rule the Internet

Emily Cadei – USA Today, 6/20/2014

Cruising the World Wide Web has been an American adventure from the start, with the United States and its tech community in the driver’s seat, dominating in terms of users, technology and policymaking. Now it’s time to start sharing the wheel.

It’s not Internet behemoths China or India, with their billion-plus populations of potential Web surfers, grabbing for it. It’s Brazil, which is positioning itself as an increasingly powerful voice in the international debate over the future of the Web, post Edward Snowden’s U.S. spying revelations (incidentally, Snowden’s chief ally in the media, Glenn Greenwald, makes his home in Rio). It’s backed there by a fast growing and active population of Internet users, seasoned tech entrepreneurs and policy wonks, and a populist vision somewhere between America’s corporate approach and China’s state-controlled take on the Web.

What Brazil wants: Privacy, free speech and other protections for its booming population of Internet users, guarantees that the Internet will remain open and unchecked by governments (like China or America’s NSA) or companies (largely based in the United States) and more resources to expand access to a more diverse and low-income crop of users.

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More than half of Brazilian households lack internet access

Angelica Mari – ZD Net, 3/24/2014

New research on telecommunications services in Brazil revealed that only 40.8 percent of households have internet access, the main barrier being the price of computing devices and access services.

The numbers of the research System of Indicators of Social Perception (SIPS), undertaken by the Brazilian Institute of Applied Economic Research (Ipea) show that the remaining digitally excluded households do not have internet access due to not owning a computer (59.6 percent), not being able to afford access services (14.1 percent), not having the need for internet (8.7 percent) and not knowing how to use it (4.3 percent).

Regarding the price of the devices, 34 percent of the households that do not own a computer said they would pay between R$300 ($129) and R$800 ($344) for a computer. Most Brazilian large retailers sell basic desktops for at least R$1000 ($430), which partly explains the recent rise in popularity of low-cost tablets as entry-level computing devices.

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Brazil real estate start-up draws U.S. investment

Vinod Sreeharsha – NY Times DealBook, 2/25/2014

Amid continuing concerns about Brazil’s sputtering economy, the Dragoneer Investment Group of San Francisco has made its first investment in an Internet company here, leading a $12.75 million round in VivaReal, an online real estate classifieds start-up, the companies said on Tuesday.

The financing, which was negotiated this month, is Dragoneer’s first investment in Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy, said Marc Stad, the firm’s founder. The growing fears about disappointing growth and even a possible recession here seem to only have emboldened Mr. Stad.

“I’d rather invest in companies and countries at a time when they are out of favor with investors,” he said.

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Software, services to drive Brazil’s IT spend in 2014

Pedro Ozores – BNAmericas, 11/05/2013

IT spending in Brazil is expected to reach nearly US$130bn in 2014, up 3.6% from the projected US$125bn for 2013, according to US IT consultancy and research firm Gartner.

In terms of segments, telecoms services should again lead IT expenditure, accounting for 60%, or US$78bn, of the total, for a 1.8% increase from 2013. The largest growth in spending, however, is expected in IT services which is expected to reach US$21.2bn next year, up 11.2% y-o-y.

Regarding the other sectors, spending in the devices segment (including PCs, tablets, mobile phones and printers) is expected to reach US$22.4bn in 2014, for a 1.7% increase from 2013. Datacenter system spending is forecast to grow by 4.9% to US$3.2bn, with software spending to rise 9.2% to US$5bn.

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