WhatsApp Blockage In Brazil

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On May 2, 2016, a judge from the state of Sergipe ordered all mobile carriers across Brazil to block the popular messaging service Whatsapp for 72 hours.

The ban was supposedly imposed because WhatsApp did not comply with the police and provide information during an ongoing investigation.

The order applied to the five major wireless carriers in Brazil and affected 100 million WhatsApp users in the country.

Previously, the police while investigating an organized crime of drug trafficking, requested Whatsapp to provide information about users.

They asked the messaging service to hand in the conversations and locations of a messaging group. The officials did not hear back from Whatsapp when they first contacted them.

The interrogators accused the company of refusal of cooperating in a police investigation.

Your TOR usage is being watched

However, WhatsApp representatives stated that they did not possess any information. WhatsApp clarified that due to the end-to-end encryption on messages it is not possible for them to read or recover a user’s conversations.

The encryption ensures that the messages can be read only by the sender and the receiver. Security is such that even WhatsApp cannot intervene.

Officials of the company also made it clear that since the service is popular worldwide, they cannot lift the encryption in future as it would compromise the safety and security of billions of its users.

The decision by the court has affected the users more than the company. People who depended on the service were deeply disappointed.

How Tor can track the impact of the block

WhatsApp in BrazilThe censorship, however, could not prevent people from accessing the service. Popular software named Tor allowed the users to bypass the ban when mobile carriers blocked the access throughout the entire country.

Orbot, a Tor proxy tool help people overcome the censorship on Android mobile phones.

Tor is free software that allows its users to visit websites anonymously without the possibility of their online activity being tracked.

Comparison of data, showing the use of Tor before and during the ban will unveil if the software was successful to overcome the block.

The tools that the Tor project use not only helps to know if a block is in effect, but it also shows if the people used the tool to circumvent the censorship.

Tor project called OONI or Open Observatory of Network Interference run some tests on Brazil’s mobile carriers during the ban.

Its main focus is detecting traffic surveillance and censorship detection and manipulation.

Data collected by the project helped to analyze the mechanism of the censorship and if tools such as Tor can bypass the block.

As soon as the blockage was announced, Tor promoted tips to help people bypass the block using Orbot on Android.

The data showed a massive increase in the download of Tor on the day of the ban. The number of users of Tor increased drastically within 24 hours.

This information proved that Tor was indeed successful in circumventing the ban without being tracked.

However, the awareness of the software still needs to be raised, as most people still do not know anything about this.

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