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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Telecom Italia, Oi want new Brazil telecom rules before any merger

Luciana Bruno – Reuters, 10/27/2015

Telecom Italia SpA and Oi SA on Tuesday urged Brazil’s government to revamp telecommunications industry rules before the companies would consider a merger, a sign that consolidation hinges on a more flexible regulation of carriers.

The easing of mandatory investments in fixed-line telephony and other rules would determine whether wireless carrier TIM Participações SA considers a merger in Brazil, Marco Patuano, the chief executive of controlling shareholder Telecom Italia said at a São Paulo event.

Oi CEO Bayard Gontijo said at the same event that those requirements demand too much of companies operating fixed-line licenses, and must be updated so they can invest more. Oi has for years spent heavily to cope with mandatory fixed-line expansion goals, hampering its ability to compete in the mobile and data segments.

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Xiaomi to push into Brazil, Russia this year

Eva Dou – The Wall Street Journal, 01/16/2015

A top Xiaomi Corp. executive on Friday renewed the Chinese company’s pledge to sell its fast-moving phones in Russia, Brazil and parts of Southeast Asia. Success could depend on whether it can find local versions of Gong Huaipeng.

Mr. Gong, a 28-year-old power plant employee who lives in the eastern Chinese city of Jinan, has bought just about every type of Xiaomi smartphone since the startup began selling them four years ago. He was in Beijing this week for his first Xiaomi product-debut event, at which it launched a larger smartphone that appears to be aimed at Apple Inc.’s newest iPhone.

To win one of the 1,100 seats for fans, which cost about $16, Mr. Gong last week hovered over his computer waiting for ticket sales to begin. “I really admire Chairman Lei for his innovation,” said Mr. Gong, speaking of Lei Jun, the company’s founder and chairman. “I admire the way he thinks.”

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Brazil, Germany debut UN web privacy resolution

Peter James Spielmann – The Associated Press, 11/07/2013

Brazil and Germany are presenting a resolution to the U.N. General Assembly urging all countries to extend internationally guaranteed privacy rights to the Internet and other electronic communications.

The proposed resolution follows a series of reports of U.S. eavesdropping on foreign leaders, including Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, that have angered U.S. allies.

The ambassadors of Germany and Brazil are publicly introducing their jointly sponsored resolution Thursday afternoon to the General Assembly committee that deals with human rights.

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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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NSA surveillance may cause breakup of internet, warn experts

Matthew Taylor, Nick Hopkins & Jemima Kiss – The Guardian, 11/01/2013

The vast scale of online surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden is leading to the breakup of the internet as countries scramble to protect private or commercially sensitive emails and phone records from UK and US security services, according to experts and academics.

They say moves by countries, such as Brazil and Germany, to encourage regional online traffic to be routed locally rather than through the US are likely to be the first steps in a fundamental shift in the way the internet works. The change could potentially hinder economic growth.

“States may have few other options than to follow in Brazil’s path,” said Ian Brown, from the Oxford Internet Institute. “This would be expensive, and likely to reduce the rapid rate of innovation that has driven the development of the internet to date … But if states cannot trust that their citizens’ personal data – as well as sensitive commercial and government information – will not otherwise be swept up in giant surveillance operations, this may be a price they are willing to pay.”

Brazil’s Anatel orders Tim to suspend infinity day promotion

Matthew Malinowski, Telma Marrotto – Bloomberg Businessweek, 11/16/2012

Brazil’s telecommunication regulator Anatel ordered Tim Participacoes SA (TIT) to suspend its Infinity Day Promotion because of concerns over its quality of service.

The Infinity Day Promotion consists of unlimited calls at a fixed price for 24 hours between telephones operated by Tim. The company said it disagrees with Anatel decision as there is no evidence of “any potential of network instability,” according to an e-mailed statement.

Tim executives “are ready for a clarification meeting with Anatel in Brasilia,” the company said in the statement. Shares fell 3.7 percent to 7.72 reais in Sao Paulo, the second-worst performer among members of the benchmark Bovespa index.

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