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Facebook and Twitter Help Foil Terror Threats to Rio Olympic Games

Brazilian police have arrested individuals thought to be involved in planning terror attacks on the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio, in an investigation called ‘Operation Hashtag’ due to the part played by social media giants Facebook and Twitter.

Judge Marcos Josegrei da Silva confirmed that the data handed over by the companies was 'instrumental' in helping anti-terror police 'understand the nature of discussions carried out by the suspects.'

The online activity of a group called 'Defenders of Sharia' has been monitored since April, and the information provided by social media sites enabled police to step in and make arrests.

In our technological age, there is a new struggle arising between the right to individual online privacy and the effort of authorities to protect national safety. We have seen a similar dilemma in the conflict between Apple and the FBI over access to the personal iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters.

There is little doubt that new understandings and compromises must be negotiated in this field.

In Brazil over the last few years, online privacy has become a sensitive issue. In September 2013, President Dilma Rousseff gave a scathing speech to the UN general assembly, condemning the US's surveillance methods and breaches to privacy. Documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed the extent of NSA spying in Brazil, and included tapping the President's personal communications.

In her speech, Rousseff framed the illegal interception of information as an aggressive violation of respect:

"In the absence of the right to privacy, there can be no true freedom of expression and opinion, and therefore no effective democracy. In the absence of the respect for sovereignty, there is no basis for the relationship among nations."

Debates were sparked again recently when the Whatsapp messaging app, owned by Facebook, was blocked in the nation for 72 hours by Brazilian authorities. This action was an attempt by Brazilian judges to try and force Facebook to divulge information about a drug trafficking case.

The suspension, although temporary, caused a great deal of inconvenience to Brazil's online users, a large proportion of whom rely on the low-cost messaging service, as the rates for calls are so high.

Whatsapp expressed its disappointment in a statement, saying it had complied with police:

"This decision punishes more than 100 million Brazilians who rely on our service... in order to force us to turn over information we repeatedly said we don't have."

Despite these and some other tense incidents, Facebook and Twitter both declare their commitment to a 'zero tolerance' policy towards crime, and cooperated willingly with the police investigation into suspected attacks on the Rio Olympics.

Judge de Silva insists that in these uncertain times, safety is the priority. He states his bottom line:

"There is no anonymity for those sorts of activities on the Internet."

Naomi is an English graduate with an itch to write. Her free time is spent blogging,
reading feminist writing, cycling, cooking and managing her food Instagram account. Her not-so secret talent is the ability to nap anywhere. Follow her @Songbird_Naomi

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Facebook and Twitter Help Foil Terror Threats to Rio Olympic Games Reviewed by Unknown on Wednesday, August 03, 2016 Rating: 5

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