Brasil, WhatsApp, Unfree network

In Brazil, WhatsApp has been temporarily closed for usage. It has been blocked by a court order, because it seems it’s competing with the telephone companies ability of making money from phone calls. That Skype and lots of other systems has been doing the same for years all over the world seems to never have been an issue.

Right now the political climate in Brazil is very heated. There’s an impeachment of the president and the congress is the most conservative it’s been for a very long time. As in most countries in latin america, they progress is away from the left (such as in Argentina).

That WhatsApp is closed down, when used by so many millions of people to organise and assemble, is probably about more than just the competition to the phone operators. If they were really scared of WhatsApp, I highly doubt they would have started selling phone packages that included free WhatsApp traffic – a very common thing in latin america. I’ve been upset that they’re been violating net neutrality and handing WhatsApp unfair competitive advantages, because few would choose apps like Telegram or Signal over WhatsApp when they would cost money to use compared to WhatsApp.

We might get to know in the future what the move about WhatsApp is really grounded in. But one thing is for certain and that is that we have a very unfree internet. When a country can suddenly close down one service like that, it’s hard to navigate around.

But to add pain to the suffering, WhatsApp has decided to not allow links to Telegram within their system. During the switch yesterday, where millions of brasilians rallied to find alternatives to WhatsApp, they could not send eachother links to the second most popular alternative. Another sign of the fact that the internet is centralised to a few select places.

We’re all building our infrastructure and put our trust in these systems. When you need to be able to protest in your country, it’s a bit too late to do it on a platform that works with the government. Or when you need to protest on the platform, it’s a bit too late to do it when it’s the one the government works with.

The single most dangerous thing about our new world is the centralisation. No matter how good and friendly the people are in the companies, they are still centralised services. They will be targets. That’s why I’m stating the obvious – that we do not have an open and free internet anymore. On so many levels we’ve centralised it all. From the ownership of the fibercables to the centralised services we used on top of them. Instead of having millions of “targets” that someone needs to close down in order to not have words spread, it’s enough for a government to contact 4-5 companies and they would have total control of our network. No matter that the underlying design is open, free, documented. No matter that you – technically – could start your own services. The free internet that exists is an island somewhere in the arctic. Noone wants to live there because it’s cold and has no inhabitants. No matter how free.

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#1 Fundador do Pirate Bay se manifesta sobre bloqueio do WhatsApp – ‘rede sem liberdade’ - Blue Bus on 12.17.15 at 15:17

[…] post no seu blog, Peter Sunde, um dos fundadores do The Pirate Bay, expressou sua opiniao sobre o bloqueio do […]