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Censorship Facebook Government

Brazil Judge Orders Phone Carriers To Block WhatsApp Message App (reuters.com) 110

A Brazilian judge has ordered wireless phone carriers to block access to Facebook's WhatsApp indefinitely, starting on Tuesday, the third such incident against the popular phone messaging app in eight months. Reuters report: The decision by Judge Daniela Barbosa Assuncao de Souza in the southeastern state of Rio de Janeiro applies to Brazil's five wireless carriers. The reason for the order was not known due to legal secrecy in an ongoing case, and will only be lifted once Facebook surrenders data, Souza's office said. Sao Paulo-based representatives at WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook Inc, as well as the Brazilian five carriers -- Telefonica Brasil SA, America Movil SAB's Claro, TIM Participacoes SA, Oi SA and Nextel Participacoes SA.
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Brazil Judge Orders Phone Carriers To Block WhatsApp Message App

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    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by aristofeles ( 763926 )
      Indeed. From http://convergenciadigital.uol... [uol.com.br] "More than that, the judge considers that if it is not possible to break the encryption, the service itself must be prohibited, since it does not lend itself to the enforcement of judicial decisions."
      • Indeed. From http://convergenciadigital.uol... [uol.com.br] "More than that, the judge considers that if it is not possible to break the encryption, the service itself must be prohibited, since it does not lend itself to the enforcement of judicial decisions."

        Should ban curtains (or any other window coverings) on windows too.

        • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

          Indeed.
          From http://convergenciadigital.uol... [uol.com.br]
          "More than that, the judge considers that if it is not possible to break the encryption, the service itself must be prohibited, since it does not lend itself to the enforcement of judicial decisions."

          Should ban curtains (or any other window coverings) on windows too.

          Unnecessary, there are many, many ways around that.

    • by rwiggers ( 1206310 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2016 @01:36PM (#52541957)

      From a Brazilian news, the order was to offer a backdoor to the encrypted messages and/or to redirect the messages to the authorities before encryption.
      http://tecnologia.uol.com.br/n... [uol.com.br]

    • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2016 @01:38PM (#52541977)

      The reason for the order was not known due to legal secrecy in an ongoing case

      That's strange, because I know what the article author claims not to know. Brazil wants information that they can't legally get. So they are (illegally) forcing a shut down of Whatsapp to put pressure on Facebook to try to get the information. If that works Watsapp will be turned on again. If it doesn't work and there isn't a lot of blow back from the population, then Facebook itself may be next, but in reality they expect that shutting down Facebook would draw too much attention to their tactics so it is unlikely to occur.

      • by morcego ( 260031 )

        Brazil wants information that they can't legally get.

        Actually, they CAN legally have (I can provide you with the relevant laws, if you want).
        However, they can't TECHNICALLY have. And thus, the judge, in a sadly usual display of technological ignorance, wants to force a square peg into a round hole.

        As all other times before this, this decisions will soon be overthrown.

      • I predict massive blowback from the population. 90%+ off the Brazilian population uses WhatsApp.
    • Maybe the order-details were encrypted? Good for them - they don't want the public nosing into their private business...

      • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2016 @02:06PM (#52542229)

        "Hello Brazilians,

        Unfortunately we cannot provide our service to you anymore. In case you're wondering why, it's because of this judge. He lives here. This is his phone number. If you don't agree with his decision, maybe tell him how you feel about it.

        --signed, Mark Z."

        • I would prefer he just offer a VPN service, or some other way to make blocking much more difficult. In the meantime, I would like to see the engineers develop robust ad hoc networks that don't require service from the phone carriers. The state has too much power over communications.

    • I'm pretty certain that is the reason why Windows 10 includes a key-logger. That way it doesn't matter how well encrypted your communications are, they can just ask Micro$oft what you typed while that application was active.
  • Just a reminder, that the US seems on track [wsj.com] to surrender its control of the Internet to an "International Body" — despite some lawmakers trying [usnews.com] to prevent the Administration from doing it [zdnet.com].

    Countries like this — and even worse ones, where citizens' access is already tightly controlled or where "hate speech" [reason.com] is illegal — will now have more say over how the Network is run.

    (If you were going to reply pointing out, FBI's attempt to unlock a dead terrorist's iPhone is "just as bad" — don'

    • The "Internet" isn't controlled by any country.

      There are only two two things that are somewhat regulated and no one needs to obey them.

      The first is DNS. No one needs to obey any root servers or organization. You can choose or form your own. It's just getting people to follow your system that is hard. You can also alias domains from different systems under your own tld's. There are also ideas and prototypes floating around for a decentralized naming system that could replace it.

      Second is network numbering.

  • by randomErr ( 172078 ) <ervin.kosch@gmai l . com> on Tuesday July 19, 2016 @01:35PM (#52541953) Journal
    My guess is that Brazilian authorities want personal information on a citizen from Facebook and Facebook will not comply. I hope the judge is ready for the repercussions of his decision. If this goes through I look for mass protests and the call for the removal of the judge. There is almost no way Facebook can't come out this smelling like a rose.
  • It's Brazil that's being blocked. Doh!

    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      Just block internet for Brazil during the Olympic Games and it would make a great point.

      • I think there is still some traffic that doesn't go directly through fb HQ

        • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

          Well, I was considering ALL internet traffic. Not just Facebook stuff.

          It would annoy a lot of media quite a bit during the Olympic Games.

          • It would give the media an excuse not to go to the open sewer that is the Olympics. I'm surprised that anyone is willing to compete in the aquatic events.
  • 96% ! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ramriot ( 1354111 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2016 @01:44PM (#52542025)

    In consideration of:-

    1/ the fact that due to massively expensive texting costs that Brazilian carriers place on customers ~96% of them use Whatsapp.

    2/ Whatsapp just happens to offer full e2e strong encryption.

    3/ Criminals want to save money also.

    So criminals use whatsapp to communicate, thus thwarting legal interception.

    I would suggest to the Judge that the root problem is not Whatsapp but the government supported telecoms carriers who forced this situation to exist.

    Also, seriously Judges. Someone needs to go down there and teach them the meaning of impossible.

    • The request is only for FUTURE messages to/from the subject of the investigation.
  • by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2016 @01:59PM (#52542159) Journal

    How are they going to "block" this app?

    Prevent WhatsApp traffic from transiting phone carrier networks? Doesn't affect Wi-Fi, then. Prevent WhatsApp traffic from transiting any network? That would need the Great Wall of Amazonia, which doesn't exist. Any traffic to WhatsApp servers? By IP block? By routing blackhole? By DNS block? That might work if they can get every net provider to agree. Until the next version incorporates a workaround.

    Maybe the judge has no idea, and neither do the folks who are supposed to implement it.

    • by thoriumbr ( 1152281 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2016 @02:13PM (#52542315) Homepage
      All telecom carriers on Brazil must block access to WhatsApp servers. 3G/4G, and cable are affected. The only Brazilian users still with WhatsApp access are those using a proxy or VPN server outside Brazil. Like me.
    • It's blatantly obvious that the judge has no clue. Because yes, in theory Facebook could implement what he is asking for. But it would accomplish exactly nothing. end-to-end encryption can be done before and after data enters that stream (you just have to add another layer), it would piss off other customers (which is certainly not in FBs interest) and in the end nobody wins. The judge doesn't get his data despite causing a lot of backlash against him (because the people will NOT like this ruling) and FB lo

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Prevent WhatsApp traffic from transiting phone carrier networks? Doesn't affect Wi-Fi, then....Maybe the judge has no idea, and neither do the folks who are supposed to implement it.

      Neither do you if you think the wifi networks aren't connected to the internet through the phone carriers.

      • Well, let's get specific.

        The decision by Judge Daniela Barbosa Assuncao de Souza in the southeastern state of Rio de Janeiro applies to Brazil's five wireless carriers.

        Are the "five wireless carriers" also significant land network providers? Primary long-haul infrastructure? I could imagine it, given how networks and network ownership tend to consolidate, but is it the case here? Because if my home network isn't provisioned by one of the five carriers under orders, to stop my use of WhatsApp they'd have t

        • The devil is always in the details.

          More likely the story is obfuscated by the details, like that old lawyers trick, comply with a discovery order by drowning them in paperwork.

        • by dafradu ( 868234 )

          From the article:
          "Telefonica Brasil SA" - Land (fiber/dsl) and Mobile lines, check.
          "America Movil SAB's Claro - Land (cable) and Mobile lines, check
          "TIM Participacoes SA" - Land (dsl/fiber) and Mobile lines, check.
          "Oi SA" - Land (dsl/fiber) and Mobile lines, check
          "Nextel Participacoes SA" - mobile only

          That probably covers over 95% of residential and a little less of commercial connections in Brazil.

          So there is no point in trying to use 3G/4G or your land/wifi connection, you'll have close to no one to talk

      • The telcos aren't the only suppliers of internet services. Last I checked, the local cable company, who also supplies internet, isn't a telco.
        • :-) That's almost pedantic.. They are businesses subject to any government whim. We need a way around them all to defeat the blockade.

    • by xvan ( 2935999 )

      That would need the Great Wall of Amazonia, which doesn't exist You don't need a Great Wall, just a court order directed to each ISP.
  • It would be amusing if Whatsapp were to stand some servers up on all the major cloud services and use dynamic IPs. I wonder how large a range of the internet Brazil would be willing to block.
  • by brazilian rabbit ( 4651507 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2016 @03:12PM (#52542779)
    This link - http://exame.abril.com.br/tecn... [abril.com.br] - (In portuguese) - Has way more information about this issue. Some interesting points from it: -Suspension will occur because Facebook didn't provide messages for an investigation still underway. -The judge says that Facebook responded the request in English, not an official language in Brazil. -Important: THE REQUESTS ARE ONLY FOR FUTURE MESSAGES. (Justice seeks only to obtain copies of future messages of the investigated). -The company argues that providing the messages will make its users lose faith in the app. The Judge calls it BS: Phones are recorded all the time and people didn't lose faith / stopped using their telecom providers. -There is a fine of ~15K USD/day until the order is followed.
  • And every time it got overruled by a higher judge a few days later. Is this still the same idiot judge as before or is it another one this time? I can't find the name of the judge that ordered the other 2 blocks.

  • But somehow I enjoy the idea of Facebook being hurt.

  • "The office of Brazil's attorney general reiterated its position that judges who suspend WhatsApp are incorrectly interpreting a 2014 law meant to provide a legal framework for the internet.

    "Still, that guidance has not stopped judges frustrated with the modern limits of wiretaps in drug-trafficking investigations from going after the service and even briefly jailing a senior Facebook executive in March."

    It sounds like we have a judge who is violating the law and should be arrested herself.

    • by xvan ( 2935999 )
      Why? Do you think it's any different in US land of the free?
      Do you really believe that, for even one second, Google and Facebook refused to provide data requested by US judges? O wait, they didn't even need to ask because the NSA has a cart blanche on their servers.
  • by TheDarkMaster ( 1292526 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2016 @04:43PM (#52543415)
    A judge in Brazil usually are an ignorant and (very) egocentric monkey, unable to understand the logic and reason do not bend to the whims of it. They are the picture of a country still in the Middle Ages where authority think his word is divine law and can never be questioned.
    • For those who think that what I said is flamebait: I am Brazilian, and you have not seen nothing yet. Judges here think they are God and that must be obeyed as such. And my country is medieval, do not be fooled by appearances. Many here still behave as if they were 19th century slaveholders.
  • If they block WhatsApp... how is my Uber driver going to tell me they're running late?

  • Just in time for the Olympics. I am sure the idea of major social network block is making NBC giggle with joy. The more social media is blocked the better NBC's Olympic monopoly will become.
    It is bad enough they don't cover half the events to begin with but the times they broadcast the ones they do cover is horrible. We'll get hours and hours of floor exercises and 20 minutes of judo. By the time the track and field is done we'll know about every cousin of 'John Doe' the 200 m sprinter but not have seen 5 m

  • I am Brazilian, I am in favor of privacy and access to strong crypto for everyone, I think most judges don't have a clue about how WhatsApp works.
    Having said that, you don't answer a Court Order in a country where you operate and have offices over e-mail, in a foreign language, asking for details about the ongoing investigation (in English, please)!

    Quote from the e-mail, contained in the decison:

    "If possible, please provide responses in English as that will significantly improve our ability to analyze

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