WhatsApp Blocked in Brazil as Judge Seeks Data

Vinod Sreeharsha – The New York Times, 05/02/2016

WhatsApp, a messaging service owned by Facebook, was shut down in Brazil on Monday after a court order from a judge who is seeking user data from the service for a criminal investigation.

Judge Marcel Maia Montalvão ordered telecom companies operating in Brazil to suspend WhatsApp nationwide for 72 hours. As of just after midday Monday, Brazilians said they could not use the popular messaging service.

The shutdown is the latest twist in a case that has embroiled WhatsApp in legal trouble. The case, which is under seal, involves an organized crime and drug trafficking investigation in the court in Lagarto, in the northeastern state of Sergipe. The court has been seeking data from WhatsApp to aid in the investigation. Diego Dzodan, a Facebook executive, was briefly taken into custody in March for refusing to comply with orders to turn over WhatsApp information in the case.

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Exclusive: Russia, U.S. competing for space partnership with Brazil

Anthony Boadle and Brian Winter – Reuters, 6/15/2015

The United States and Russia are competing for a strategic role in Brazil’s plan to launch commercial satellites from its base near the equator, opening up a new theater in their rivalry for allies and influence.

Brazil’s government expects to choose a partner to help provide technology in the coming months, three sources with knowledge of the deliberations told Reuters.

Brazil partnered with Ukraine over the past decade to develop a launch vehicle at the Alcantara base on its northern Atlantic coast. But Brazil ended the program in February, saying that Ukraine’s financial problems left it unable to provide rockets as promised.

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Students In Brazil Use Pattern Recognition Algorithm For Safe Driving

Empire State Tribune, 8/25/2014

Five students at the Santa Catarina State University in Brazil submitted a project to Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition subjects that functions as a pattern recognition system in a dashboard camera to detect the use of mobile phones of drivers while on the road.

The head proponent Rafael Berri, together with his friends, Alexandre Silva, Rafael Parpinelli, Elaine Girardi and Rangel Arthur introduced a solution to prevent drivers from using their mobile phones while driving. The camera monitors the pattern of the face, ears, and hands and other signs of ‘on the phone’ to lessen the chances of accidents.

Berri and his team said that drivers tend to fix their gaze straight ahead while on the phone. Thus, placing the dashboard camera in front of the driver is an ideal spot to effectively scan the patterns, according to MIT Technology Review. If the driver is caught while on the phone, the system sends a warning.

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Google ranked best tech workplace in Brazil

Angelica Mari – ZDNet, 8/11/2014

Google is the best technology employer in Brazil — and the majority of the other top 10 employers are also foreign, according to a list by The Great Place to Work Institute of the best companies to work for in the country.

The ranking considered 220 organizations which employ around 287,000 people in Brazil. Google and the runner-up, Brazilian document management firm Acesso Digital, have maintained their positions in relation to last year’s list.

The change in the top three is the appearance of Microsoft, now ranked as the third best tech employer in Brazil, replacing local engineering and software company Radix.

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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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Brazil Exports First Military Drone: Flight Technologies FT-100 Horus Heads To Unnamed African Country

Angelo Young – International Business Times, 8/4/2014

The first Brazilian-made tactical drone is headed to Africa before the end of the year, says São Paulo-based FT Sistemas S.A., one of the country’s larger producers of unmanned aerial vehicles. The company wouldn’t say which African country is buying its FT-100 Mini-UAV, or for what purposes.

“The Horus FT-100 was designed in conjunction with the Brazilian Army . . . to be used in typical applications of short range performed by platoons, companies or even battalions,” the company said in its announcement (in Portuguese) from July 28. It didn’t mention the value of the deal. Brazil is emerging as a major player in the sale of modern military equipment in emerging and developing markets that can’t afford equipment developed by major players, like Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT) or Britain’s BAE Systems plc (LON:BA).

“The UAV market remains dominated by the US and Israeli defense contractors, but other nations have been heavily investing in the technology especially for more cost-effective, less technologically advanced solutions,” said IHS Jane’s Defence Industry.

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M-commerce in Brazil up 84 percent in a year

Angelica Mari – ZDNet, 7/31/2014

The number of Brazilians using mobile devices for purchase of products and services has skyrocketed with an 84.2 percent increase over the last 12 months, according to recent research.

In June 2013, mobile transactions represented 3.8 percent of the total e-commerce pie in Brazil — by June 2014, that number had gone up to 7 percent.

During that period, 2.89 million transactions were carried out, the equivalent to R$1.13bn ($497m), according to the report WebShoppers by consultancy firm e-Bit. The key segments are fashion and accessories with 18 percent of all sales, followed by cosmetics and health products with 16 percent and electronics with 11 percent.

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Brazil creates modern energy matrix

Élbia Melo – Recharge News, 8/1/2014

Proinfa’s objective was to make possible the contracting of “non-conventional” renewable energy — biomass, small hydro and wind — even when these sources had production costs much higher than conventional hydropower, in order to send an investment signal.

At today’s prices, wind was contracted for about R$370 ($165) per MWh in that period, while biomass and small hydro were contracted at prices above R$200/MWh, in contrast to conventional hydro prices of around R$100/MWh. This was similar to the feed-in tariff regimes used by Europe and most of the developed countries that implemented strong renewables policies from the mid-1990s.

Wind and solar have stood out strongly in the past ten years in the evolution of their technology and production costs. These factors have allowed an exponential increase in investment and brought strong competition in equipment prices.

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Brazil State to Purchase Solar Power After Failing to Lure Buyer

Vanessa Dezem – Bloomberg, 7/28/2014

Brazil’s Pernambuco state, which held the nation’s first solar-energy auction last year, said it is on the hook to buy the power after it was unable to find other bidders.

Pernambuco’s government agreed this month to buy the electricity from solar projects with the capacity to produce 96 megawatts of power, said state Secretary of Infrastructure Joao Bosco de Almeida. Contracts to build the projects were awarded in December to developers including Italy’s Enel Green Power SpA, who agreed to sell the power at an average price of 228.63 reais a megawatt-hour ($102.53) for 20 years. The contracts were only to build the projects and didn’t include buyers.

Although getting cheaper, solar power prices are still about 75 percent higher than those offered in the last wind-energy auction in June because the technology is still expensive and all of the equipment has to be imported. In addition to the high price, the duration of the contracts that Pernambuco was offering also deterred buyers, said Helena Chung, a Sao Paulo-based analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Buyers in Brazil’s wholesale market usually sign contracts for no longer than 10 years.

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Datalogic targets Brazil

Sherri Buri McDonald – The Register-Guard, 7/24/2014

As part of its global expansion strategy, Datalogic, an Italian tech company with deep roots in Eugene, has opened a factory in Brazil.

The company has spent $2 million to build the 23,680-square-foot plant in the city of Jundiai, in the state of São Paulo. It will churn out bar code readers, mobile computers and other devices, offer technical assistance and maintenance of the equipment, and serve as a demonstration center for new products, company officials said.

It is Datalogic’s first facility in Latin America.

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