Messenger is a popular instant messaging app that allows users
to send text messages, pictures, voice notes and videos (among
other things) over an Internet connection using cellphones and now,
PCs. As of February 2016, the Facebook-owned app is used by one billion people around the world every
month. Ninety-six per cent of Brazilians use WhatsApp as their
primary method of communication, in part due to the high cost of
SMS. Many commercial transactions are entered into in Brazil on
With almost 100 million users in the country, WhatsApp is the
most used app in Brazil. So, when a Brazilian judge ordered
cellphone providers to shut down WhatsApp for 48 hours, it had major
consequences for Brazilian users who were cut off from their
primary means of communication. Media reports claimed that the
ruling was an attempt to force the company to provide user data to
prosecutors in an ongoing criminal investigation. WhatsApp's
lawyers appealed the ruling and the decision was overturned, in
part based on submissions that WhatsApp did not retain any of the
message information sent between users.
Brazil's WhatsApp shutdown is yet another example of the
mounting tensions between technology companies and government law
enforcement agencies seeking access to user data. Who can forget
the recent (and well-publicized) feud between Apple and the FBI over access to
encrypted iPhones? Technology companies are providing encryption
services to demonstrate their commitment to protecting users'
privacy and promote consumer confidence in their products.
In response, many countries are reviewing their approach to telecommunication
regulation and some are enacting laws that require
"decryption" or interception capabilities to be built
into encrypted products and services. If these legislative changes
come to pass, tech companies will have to decide whether they will
continue to provide encryption protections and pull out of
countries with restrictions, or release less secure alternatives of
their products in response to government pressure.
As Brazilians resume their regular communications after the
temporary shutdown of one of the country's primary means of
connection, tech companies are bracing themselves for similar
showdowns in countries all over the world.
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Software license agreements generally require the customer to pay fees for the software license and related services, which fees are usually based upon the duration of the license and the manner in which the customer is allowed to use the software, together with applicable taxes and withholdings.
In less than nine months, on July 1, 2017, persons affected by a contravention of Canada's anti-spam legislation will be able to invoke a private right of action to sue for compensation and potentially substantial statutory damages.
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