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Brazilian netizens are in fits of giggles at the news that the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (ABIN) [en] has hastily launched an operation to monitor the Internet [en]. Caught off guard by the demonstrations that are popping up around the country, the government has deployed intelligence officials to check the activities and movements of protesters through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
While people across Brazil prepare for upcoming protests, the movement leaders have started to be followed on social networks by civil servants, who have been tasked with analysing the temperature and scale of upcoming demonstrations using Mosaico, a monitoring system that tracks about 700 topics identified by the Government.
Whilst Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are partially open, depending on the level of user privacy, for instant messaging application WhatsApp, only users included in a given conversation can read the exchanged messages. For this reason, the news was met with mockery on social networks. Nick (@NickEllis) begins:
“ABIN monitora Whatsapp” Hahahahaha!!!
“ABIN is monitoring Whatsapp” Hahahahaha!!!
Guilherme Jedi (@JediBR) replies:
@NickEllis @azaghal é, eles ficam dando F5 pra ver se sai update. :P
@NickEllis @azaghal Yeah, they keep pressing F5 to check for updates. :P
Marcos Gomes (@marcogomes) agrees that the Government has taken on an impossible mission:
O Gov. está TÃO perdido que a ABIN acha que consegue monitorar WhatsApp (impossível, WA não está no BR) http://ow.ly/mduMa
The Govt. is SO out of touch that ABIN believes they can monitor WhatsApp (impossible, WA is not in Brazil) http://ow.ly/mduMa
Marcelo N (@neozeitgeist) also jokes:
Qdo q se fala em “serviço de inteligência brasileiro”, é tortura ou piada. Agora a Abin diz q vai MONITORAR Whatsapp http://t.co/RbWc5q027x
When “Brazilian intelligence service” is mentioned, it is either about torture or a joke. Now Abin says they will MONITOR Whatsapp http://t.co/RbWc5q027x
E t. c. grocho (@elgroucho) also pokes fun:
abin monitorando twitter e facebook já prevejo detidos nos próximos protestos por posse de gif
With Abin monitoring Twitter and Facebook, I can just see many being held in the next protests for possession of .gif
Leonardo Farias (@leofariasrj25) has a suggestion:
Rapaz, eu acho que o que os sistemas da ABIN devem ser apelidados carinhosamente de Gambiarra.
Mate, I think that ABIN systems should be affectionately dubbed ‘cock-up’.
Nobre (@nobreceara) takes the opportunity to check on his followers:
Que garantia eu tenho que essa pessoa com avatar de cachorro de peruca, não é na verdade, Seu Tenório, 52 anos, araponga do governo?
Who could guarantee that this person with a wigged dog as avatar is not actually Mr. Tenorio, 52, a government spook?
Stephano Souza (@stephanoFSouza) reacts with sarcasm:
Ola, ABIN, estão confortáveis ai em suas cadeiras lendo nossas mensagens??? #vemprarua #ogiganteacordou #protestobh
Hi there ABIN, are you sitting comfortably out there reading our messages??? #vemprarua #ogiganteacordou #protestobh
Some people were angry at the news, such as Roberto Soares:
Caros amigos, porque diabo vocês não vão fiscalizar as contas publicas?
Porque não fiscalizam as ligações entre políticos e suas empresas fantasmas? Já que monitorar MILHÕES de brasileiros é fácil… gastando assim nosso dinheiro…
Gastem com responsabilidade…
Fiscalizem nossos políticos e suas empresas… Fiscalizem nossas obras publicas…
Façam o cumprimente de suas obrigações com responsabilidade e “inteligencia”, quem deve ser fiscalizado neste país são os POLÍTICOS e os BANDIDOS… suas contas, seus telefones, emails e whatsapp logico, Porque nenhum deles utiliza um celular de 100 reais que serve só para ligar e receber…
Dear friends, why the hell don't you go inspecting public finances?
Why don't you investigate the links between politicians and their ghost companies? Since monitoring MILLIONS of Brazilians is easy… [you are] spending our money on it, so do it responsibly…
Monitor our politicians and their companies… Monitor our public-sector buildings…
Meet your own obligations responsibly and with “intelligence”, those who should be checked up on in this country are POLITICIANS and GANGSTERS… their bank accounts, their phones, emails and of course their whatsapp, because none of them has a cheap $100 mobile phone that is only good for making and receiving calls…
CIA Made in Brazil
There were plenty of comparisons between the Mosaico, the system employed by Abin, and PRISM, the system used by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States (CIA). The Pirate Party of Brazil (PartidoPirataBR) publishes the image on the right to compare the two systems, explaining:
Abin intensifica monitoramento de ativistas na Internet, em função dos protestos contra o aumento das passagens. pic.twitter.com/P4shYQDZOz
Abin intensifies monitoring of activists on the Internet due to protests against the increase in bus fares. pic.twitter.com/P4shYQDZOz
Sérgio Pavarini (@pavarini) says that the U.S. president, Barack Obama is “making school”:
Abin monta rede para monitorar internet http://t.co/VsBhIq1otK escolinha do prof. obama
Abin deploys network to monitor internet http://t.co/VsBhIq1otK Professor Obama's little school
Finally, Cardoso says that Abin “is less informed than that aunt of yours who accesses the internet via dial-up once a week to check email.” To him, every country has the Prism it deserves:
Antes que comecem, não há nada de ilegal nisso. Vão colocar um estagiário no emprego dos sonhos de qualquer jovem da Geração Desocupada: Sentar na frente de um computador o dia inteiro piranhando pelas redes sociais. Só resta saber se vai usar o nick @NaoSouDaABIN, @MarioFofoca, @ABIN_USER_246 ou @JamesBond22331
O mais assustador de tudo é o Governo ter sido pego desprevenido. Não pela incompetência da Abin, mas pela total alienação dos primeiros escalões. É mais que claro que a atual administração não liga pra Redes Sociais…
Before we begin, there is nothing illegal about it. They will employ an intern in the dream job of any unemployed of the young generation: sitting in front of a computer all day long checking social networks. The only question is whether they will use @ImNotABIN, @MrGossip, @ABIN_USER_246 or @JamesBond22331 as avatar.
The scariest thing of all is that the government has been caught off guard. Not by Abin's incompetence, but because of the overall alienation of the top dogs. It is more than clear that the current administration doesn't give a damn about social media …