Whatsapp is Making Brazil Rethink Net Neutrality

whatsapp

The dramatic surge of Brazilians using Whatsapp has triggered a volatile response from their government. A radical judge in San Paulo has just ordered phone companies to participate in a 48 hour Whatsapp black out. The battle between Whatsapp & phone providers has finally come to a head, & the Brazilian people are furious.

Ever since the infamous app gained a cult following in Brazil phone companies have been up in arms over the enticing features that this controversial app provides. Phone companies claim that Whatsapp’s raging popularity is a direct attack on their sales, while many activists claim that the government’s bold move to restrict the app is paving the way for further measures that threaten to undermine the internet rights that were previously celebrated by Brazilians.

Whatsapp Creates Turmoil Between People & Government

With its ability for free phone calls Whatsapp has been stealing the show in Brazil & has even sparked a showdown between the people & their government. Many companies claim that the app is causing them to lose massive amounts of cellphone contracts. Since Whatsapp is currently the country’s favorite app, it has become public enemy #1 for phone companies. Earlier this year the president of Brazilian telecoms firm Vivo, Amos Genish, called WhatsApp “pure piracy,” claiming that the service hijacked phone numbers that rightfully “belonged” to cellphone providers like his. Despite the doomsday cries of phone companies, Whatsapp continued to spread like wild fire in Brazil. It has grown to such epic proportions that phone companies have even enlisted the help of the government. While many see this as nothing more than silly acts of desperation, phone companies do have a trick up their sleeve: Brazil’s congress.

They have strategically placed one of their top lobbyists in charge of spearheading a bill that aims to change the way Brazilians access apps. This new wave of government interference is threatening to undo the thread work of one of the most liberal internet bills in the world.

It’s hard to believe that the huge popularity of Whatsapp now has the potential to make Brazil backtrack on their Internet Bill of Rights. Shortly after the Edward Snowden scandal changed the way the world looked at big brother surveillance Brazil took drastic measures to distance themselves from the electronic spying of the United States. Enraged by the news that top Brazilian officials & politicians were being spied on, Brazil made it clear that they would not take the issue lightly. This gave birth to the first ever Internet Bill of Rights, which gained worldwide praise for protecting Brazilian access to the internet. It insured that the Brazilian government didn’t have the right to spy on their citizens & made Brazil the official champion of net neutrality. All that’s set to change with a bold new proposal being proposed by the head of Brazilian congress who just so happens to be a lobbyist for the telecom companies. This new conservative movement aims to repeal the internet bill of rights & replace it with a bill that’s even worse than what’s in place in America.

The new set of laws would require people to submit their tax id number, address & phone number just to use the internet & access apps. It would also allow the government to censure social media & find out exactly who posted whatever they deem offensive. This scary turn of events is making this case the deciding battle for the rights of Brazilians to freely access the internet.

These troubling developments have the potential to affect much more than the way people access Whatsapp, it’s giving birth to a whole new era where social media is censured by the government. It’s tragic to see a country who seemed so promising to backtrack into archaic tyranny. All of this was sparked by the greed of phone companies & the fear of a government who is already the laughingstock of their own country.

With the current presidential approval rating at 10% & top government officials being arrested in corruption scandals sweeping the nation it’s no wonder that Brazil is interested in censuring its social media.