Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Technology vs. State: Iran and Brazil vs Whatsapp

Governments all over the world are fighting against technology companies with absurd and naive expectations. Brazil, for example, had two separate incidence where different judges banned the app for 48 and 72 hours resulting in 12 and 24 hours of service outages respectively before the orders were rescinded. Brazilian police arrested Diego Dzodan, vice president of Facebook's Latin America operations, for not giving the government information neither him nor anyone else at WhatApp had access to. Facebook owns WhatsApp, but all user data is stored on devices and not in servers. 


Iran is requiring WhatsApp to move user data to Iranian servers or be shut down. Over and over again there have been rumors of WhatsApp's demise in Iran, but it still hasn't come about. This fight is an important one for technology companies who are developing into a strong check on authoritarianism.

As John McAfee stated in a debate on CNN "there has never been a single instance of a master-key or a backdoor being placed in software that was not accessed in the matter of weeks by foreign agents or black-hat hackers." McAfee went on to say that privacy wasn't the issue, that security was the issue. So when a country says it is looking out for your best interests by bending technology companies to their will, they are not. Luckily technology companies themselves have quite a bit of influence.

So there we have it. Shots fired. Technology is now a major factor in the division of power and anyone who believes in Federalism should side with the rights of technology firms to secure user data.

Tonight, a Brazilian judge blocked WhatsApp for more than 100 million people who rely on it in her country.
We are working hard to get this block reversed. Until then, Facebook Messenger is still active and you can use it to communicate instead.
This is a sad day for Brazil. Until today, Brazil has been an ally in creating an open internet. Brazilians have always been among the most passionate in sharing their voice online.
I am stunned that our efforts to protect people's data would result in such an extreme decision by a single judge to punish every person in Brazil who uses WhatsApp.
We hope the Brazilian courts quickly reverse course. If you're Brazilian, please make your voice heard.


Check out the newest episode of "Wanted: The George Edwards Show" on both iTunes and Google Play.