Brazil judge orders WhatsApp blocked for 72 hours, affecting 100 million people


#1

[Read the post]


#2

I can’t imagine why they would ever turn it back on. Let some Brazilian entrepreneurs have that market, if they want it. In fact, I’m beginning to think it’s about time for tech companies to play John Galt and just refuse to play with governments that demand unethical behavior. Recently, that includes my own.


#3


#4

Fucking technologically illiterate fuckwits in positions of power need to fuck the fuck off.


#5

This baffles me. So weird. What does blocking a messaging service for 72 hours do?


#6

… fails to… send a message?


#7

Someone is expecting grass-roots organized civil unrest.


#8

Time to stop depending on big monolithic companies and build fully decentralised systems, I think…

Block whatsapp, sure. But block my phone from talking to your phone? How?


#9

I am thinking what would happen if WhatsApp decided to rewrite itself to start using UDP 53 (DNS) as its underlying port. For good measure, FaceBook should sponsor some of the DNS root servers with the ability to act as WhatsApp proxies. (For Application based firewalls, I am sure that WhatsApp can make the request look like a normal DNS request for a TXT or other record type.)

Just imagine trying to block this service without making the whole Internet going dark.


#10

Just imagine trying to convince these genius judges that the whole Internet going dark is a bad thing…


#11

Given that this is the poxed world of ‘mobile’, I suspect that it wouldn’t help all that much. Neither iOS nor Android expose many configuration options for the cellular data link by default(compared to wifi, where you can actually fiddle with some network settings) and cell carriers love to do carrier-grade-NAT and assorted other ‘almost as good as a real internet connection!’ nonsense. Also not uncommon for ISPs to run their own DNS servers for NXDOMAIN squatting and similar fuckery, and more likely with cellular than with wireline for using the ISP’s DNS servers to be mandatory(in that they’ll just drop DNS requests directed anywhere else).

I doubt that the local carriers are doing anything heroic to enforce the block, rather than just enough to not be found in violation of the order; but fun DNS tricks tend to work better on internet connections not provided by cheapskate control freaks, which generally includes cell carriers.

(edit: It probably doesn’t help that many, though certainly not all, of the whatsapp users here aren’t specifically in it for the encryption; but to save money on SMS, which is usuriously priced more or less everywhere and apparently even more fun in Brazil, just to go with electronics prices there generally. If price isn’t your primary object, it’s a great deal easier to evade all but the most intense blocking attempts. A decent VPN endpoint, whether purchased through a provider of such services, run on AWS or the like, or run on personally owned hardware, isn’t free. The encrypted tunnel, while a whole hell of a lot cheaper than a leased line, will also add some overhead that may end up hitting you in the data plan if you are using an expensive cellular connection. Plus, cheaper cellular connections sometimes block VPNs to force you to buy the ‘business’ equivalent that differs primarily in not blocking VPNs and costing twice as much. If you have resources, and ideally a little nerd-fu, most of the lightweight attempts at blocking things are little more than a nuisance. If your motives are primarily economic, either because you just don’t care that much or because you simply can’t afford to have them be otherwise, it is a great deal easier for technically unimpressive impediments to be economically insurmountable or not worth surmounting.

This isn’t specific to Brazil, of course, every country has people of widely varying economic and technical resources; but it is a good idea to keep in mind the fact that even laughably inept attempts at censorship/surveillance/etc. can hit a great deal harder among people who lack the appropriate combination of money and skill to circumvent them, so it is very much possible for an adversary to get most of what they want even when their methods are pitiful.)


#12

This is a too-big-to-fail problem. 100 million people depending on the same private enterprise to communicate with one another is too many people depending on that private enterprise. If shutting down WhatsApp means journalists can’t do their jobs then WhatsApp has too much power over journalism. I’m not a big fan of necessary public infrastructure being controlled by entities that view themselves as having no responsibility to the public.

Yeah, the judge is probably being an idiot, but at least it seems in Brazil a private company can’t just boss the justice system around. That’s a good thing. Maybe this will teach a lot of people an important lesson about relying too much on a single service.


#13

While email is admittedly an…imperfect…system; it always struck me as rather tragic that it seems to be among the last communications mechanisms where multiparty interoperability is expected, enabled by design, and actually available in practice.

Yes, Jabber/XMPP supports ‘federation’; but even XMPP-based services typically don’t use that capability, SMS works between telcos; but is basically a disaster in every other respect; and everyone with an ‘app’ wants you in their walled garden.


#14

##FTFY


#15

IF I understand the problem, Whatsapp cannot obtain and then release the desired communications because of end-to-end encryption. The company is kept from reading those conversations by design.


#16

Prevents people who only know how to contact one another through the app, from doing so, for 3 days.


#17

“What we’ve got here, is, failure to communicate.”
– Strother Martin, Cool Hand Luke


#18

Power is never given away, only taken away.

(Yeah, I could throw an “almost” in there, maybe… but that would ruin my absolutist aesthetic.)

(And I’m not really arguing with your point; it’s well made. Just…giving in to my absolutist aesthetic, I guess, which is now being totally subverted by these parenthetical comments. sigh)


#19

Sure, but I mean… what good is three days? Like, other than inconveniencing a whole bunch of people… are they expecting an uprising or some crap?

On top of which, to use whatsapp you need to have someone’s phone number. So by virtue of the fact that knowing their phone number is required… you automatically have information to be able to set up another method of contact.


#20

I dunno. Ask the Judge. I addressed the ‘what’ as asked, not the why as not asked.