Brazilian telcoms regulator raids, confiscates and fines over open WiFi

The latest in a series of reversals from Brazil's new government is an attack on open WiFi. The Brazilian telcoms regulator claims that it is empowered to raid the homes of people with open WiFi networks and seize their routers and then issue hefty fines. This is part of a general series of attacks on sharing and openness in Brazil, including attacks on free content and open culture -- a heartbreaking turn from a nation that has led the world in respect for the open Internet, shared culture, and freedom for most of the century.
On January 27 , Anatel (Brazil's National Telecommunications Agency), the regulatory agency responsible for regulating, executing and supervising the telecommunications sector, seized equipment and fined an internet user R$ 3,000 (approximately $ 1,810 USD) for sharing his wifi connection with neighbors in the city of Teresina, Piauí state (Northeast of Brazil). [GV note: one of the poorest states in Brazil.]
Brazil: Criminalization of Sharing Internet via Wifi (Thanks, Gmoke, via Submitterator!)

(Image: Anatel, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from hapoptosis's photostream)


  1. I guess you’re the only one that noticed this. We’re not Egypt. It was probably just someone stealing the signal from some cable company and reselling it.

  2. I’m from Brazil and never heard about this. From what the story describes it seems more like the act of some very stupid or corrupt oficials that wanted to have a bone to pick with one guy, not a “a series of reversals from Brazil’s new government”.

    Brazil has it’s very own Hanlon’s razors: “Never blame on general malice what can be explained by individual corruption”

  3. There are some information missing on this news.

    The user was fined not for sharing his internet connection, but for reselling it. He owned a router and 3 neighbors paid him R$ 180 (around USD $105) for using the access point.

    Reselling internet access is indeed illegal in Brazil without a commercial permit that costs R$ 400 (USD $235) and the signal must not trespass the establishment limits.

    It’s not a matter of free content or open culture, but indeed, he was running an illegal business in there. Free wi-fi spots are permitted in the current legislation, as long, it has no commercial purpuse, or if it has a commercial permit.

  4. Really Brazil, really? What the hell man, seriously that shit is not cool. Now quit acting stupid and let’s all have some caiparinhas and just chill.

  5. It is as the article describes.They are using a case of illegal sharing of wi-fi to justify the termination of all kinds of sharing. I’m from Brazil and until last year it was a great place to work with open and free culture, as I’ve been doing for the last 7 years through the After the new ministry of culture took charge things have being terrible. The government no longer supports free and open source softwares, they removed any sign of that from their websites and all the work we’ve been doing to educate about free and open-source culture was thrown in the trash. The ministry is related to Chico Buarque de Holanda, one of Brazilians most aknowledges songwriters and also one of the artists that has the most income from the rights of his music. It’s sad, and I really regret my vote, I’m a big fan of Lula and of the things he did for our country. But now they’re making the country of the future walk bakwards. And I hope that, through our work and the success of people’s projects in this area we can make a difference again.

  6. To the Anons claiming it was illegal business: It’s not that simple. Read the article.

    I am brazilian, and I know, as every brazilian does, that people in poor areas have a common practice of sharing services they can’t afford on their own. In this case, one person contracts the service, they all chip in to buy a wireless router, and they share the bill. So it’s all a matter of perspective. The guy was not charging for the service, they were all splitting the bill, which I think is radically different.
    So, is it a crime? I don’t know really. It’s a gray area. Personally, I don’t think it is, if they all agreed and they all have equal expenses and access to bandwidth. You can’t consider that as providing a service, more like sharing it.

    It’s like accusing a group of 3 friends who ask to split a dish for two in a restaurant of reselling the food. Anatel should focus on monitoring and fining the absurdities the telecom companies inflict on their customers on a regular basis.

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