Things That Matter

Tech Giant Amazon Won Legal Battle For Its Domain Name But What Does That Mean For South America

Online retail giant Amazon has prevailed in a controversial domain name legal battle with Amazon, the geographic region in South America. This past month, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) sided with Amazon to win the rights to the “.amazon” domain name.

The decision comes after a seven year dispute with more than a half dozen countries including Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil and Bolivia. The countries argue that Amazon should not have the rights to the name as it is also an important geographic region in their continent. They are also backed by the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organisation (ACTO), a group promoting the development of the Amazon Basin.

While Amazon is the world’s biggest online retailer, it’s also the name of the world’s largest rain forest.

The presidents of Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia- Martin Vizcarra, Ivan Duque, Lenin Moreno and Evo Morales , have called the decision “inadequate governance of the internet.” The core of their argument is a cultural and symbolic stance on what the term “amazon” represents.

The countries objecting Amazon’s move worry that a corporation symbolically taking control of a name associated with their heritage sets a precedent for future similar scenarios. They also worry they would lose tourism revenue and opportunities to use trip.amazon, hotels.amazon and other domain names.

The case sets “a grave precedent by prioritizing private commercial interests above the considerations of state public policies, the rights on indigenous people and the preservation of the Amazon,” Vizcarra, Duque, Moreno and Morales said in a joint statement.

Amazon had tried to get the countries to drop their challenge for years.

Amazon has had multiple attempts to get the ACTO to drop their complaint. One of these attempts included offering $5 million in gift cards to Brazil and Peru, the ACTO member states who originally filed the complaint. But the offers were declined.

Fahim Naim, a former category manager at Amazon, told Retail Dive that while this legal case might not be a big deal to some outside the U.S., it’s important in South America.

“I’m not sure the average U.S. customer is going to care enough, but from a South American perspective, Amazon is fighting with these seven or eight South American countries, you have the foreign minister of Brazil publicly objecting, and Amazon, by the way, just launched in Brazil,” Naim said. “I can imagine that, if you’re a Brazilian, throw in the whole angle that they are demeaning the rainforest, you’re less likely to consider shopping there.”

Many are criticizing the decision because of what the name represents to the various regions in South America.

Many are upset that an online retail giant like Amazon has continued to take over many properties, and now the name of a region. One user called the decision “colonial” and a “a slap in the face to early internet promises of global representation + shared power.”

The next move in the dispute will be a 30-day period of public comment.

ICAAN said that it “remained hopeful that additional time could lead to a mutually acceptable solution regarding those applications. But at this time the ACTO and Amazon “were unable to come to a mutually acceptable solution or agree on an extension of time for continued discussions.”

As part of Amazon’s agreement terms with the domain, the retailer will not register any .amazon domain names with “a primary and well-recognized significance to the culture and heritage of the Amazonia region.” It will also provide up to nine domain names for countries to use for non-commercial purposes to “highlight the region’s culture and heritage.”

While there have been disputes over domain names in the past. Rarely has a company faced off against multiple countries for a name.

“It’s not the classic issue of two different parties applying for the same name,” Rodrigo de la Parra, the regional vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean at Icann, told the New York Times. “The governments didn’t apply for .amazon — they only have concerns about its usage by a private company given its cultural and natural heritage for the region.”

READ: Here’s Why Housing Advocates Are Warning Against Amazon’s Impact On Affordable Housing

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Nicole Chapaval Advocates For More Latinas In Tech Through Teaching App Platzi

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Nicole Chapaval Advocates For More Latinas In Tech Through Teaching App Platzi

The gender disparity in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) jobs remains wide in Colombia. As of 2019, Colombian women hold 32.9 percent of all STEM jobs in the country.

Nicole Chapaval, the VP of education at Platzi, wants to get more women into STEM. As someone who found herself in tech, Chapaval understands what it takes for women to break into the industry.

Chapaval’s own passion for computer science started in her youth. Despite wanting her parents’ reservations about her career choice, she went to school to study software engineering.

“I learned how to code with Platzi. I was a student back in 2012 before I worked here,” she told mitú.

Platzi is a professional learning app targeting people ages 22 and older.

Photo courtesy of Apple

Instructors for the app are teaching livestream courses on programming, marketing, design, and business. The classes are available in English and Spanish.

Chapaval took an interest in content optimization practicing her coding on a personal blog while taking online courses. Starting out as a student advocate, the two founders of Platzi noticed her dedication and started to involve her more in the team.

As Platzi expanded, so did Chapaval’s job description.

Chapaval has been successful in her career. Yet, despite the success, she has seen the gender disparity firsthand. It has only further inspired Chavapal to work to get more women in their tech careers.

“One of my first jobs was in a company that was doing mobile applications and in this company there were 15 male developers and myself,” she says.

Wanting to engage with her male colleagues, Chapaval admitted to feeling weird when her enthusiasm was not reciprocated.

“I was always very extroverted and wanted to meet everyone [but] they didn’t want to talk with me,” she says.

Chapaval teaches 60 percent of computer sciences courses hoping to attract more women to the field.

Photo courtesy of Apple

“I think that representation is very important. So I try to be very vocal and very present with everything that we do in social media and in content creation,” she says.

Whether it be attending company livestreams or podcasts, it is imperative for Chapaval to have women witness others in the field to show the possibilities they can achieve.

Prideful, she also amplifies the achievements of other Latinas in STEM, like that of Diana Trujillo. Yet, she still expresses a need for more women to get managerial roles.

“I am very proud of Trujillo,” she says. “She’s from my hometown and she was in the NASA project that launched the Perseverance Rover. These kinds of things are great!”

Thirty-six percent of Platzi‘s more than 1 million students are women and it is growing.

Photo courtesy of Apple

“That’s very low,” she says, “but we doubled that percentage from 2018 so we still have a long way to go.”

A key step needed to attract more students is accessibility, both financially and in content. Platzi, Chapaval mentions, offers free programming courses that aim to be accessible to those with low internet connection in all parts of Colombia and Latin America.

It’s not just about what you are learning as an individual, but also as a team or a group,” she says. “That also adds to the working ecosystem of Latin America.”

Regardless of gender, age, or background, Chapaval believes “education is very important if we want to break these blockers.”

In fact, two crucial skills she believes everyone should know is programming and English. “I like to say that both skills have to do with communications; communication with machines and with other people in the world,” she says.

In a time when remote jobs are pertinent due to the pandemic, having communication skills is a valuable asset for STEM careers in any country.

“Programming should be a basic skill that schools teach as well because it’s not only [beneficial] to be a developer,” Chapaval says. “It helps you understand how to solve problems in a logical way.”

Chapaval is grateful for her personal growth in STEM and hopes that Platzi can help others grow.

Photo courtesy of Apple

“I hope [students] can create what they dream of with the coding skills that they can get with us and can show it to the world,” she says.

“Latin America is a lovely region and a lot is happening here,” she says. “I hope that if this community can get to know each other and create the next big companies and big solutions for problems that we have right now, I would [be] fulfilled.”

As the gender disparity in STEM slowly expands, Chapaval continues to vouch for women to speak up and push through in the field.

Proudly Chapaval says, “Latinas are very extroverted, and the tech and software engineering world needs more extroverted people [like us] to add to their ecosystem.”

The App Store featured Platzi for Women’s History Month.

Read: She Came As A Teen From Colombia With Only $300 To Her Name, Now She’s a Director For NASA

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Brazil is Fining Apple $2 Million For Selling the iPhone 12 Without A Charger, And We’re Not Mad About It

Things That Matter

Brazil is Fining Apple $2 Million For Selling the iPhone 12 Without A Charger, And We’re Not Mad About It

Photo via Getty Images

It seems like every new product rollout, Apple gets stingier and stingier with what they include with each purchase. And while Brazil has recently been in the headlines for controversial news, this time, they have the public opinion on their side. Standing up for consumers, Brazil is fining Apple for alleged “false advertising”.

On Friday, a consumer watchdog agency announced that Brazil is fining Apple for $2 million. The reason? Not including a charger with the iPhone 12.

According to Procon, the São Paulo-based consumer protection agency, Apple’s decision not to include a charger with the iPhone 12 amounts to “false advertising”. Procon also accused Apple of selling “defective products”, creating unfair contracts for consumers, and failing to repair products that are still under warranty.

Per Brazilian media, Procon contacted Apple last year to ask them why they were now excluding chargers and earbuds. However, the company “never offered a convincing explanation” to the Brazilian agency.

“Apple needs to understand that in Brazil there are solid laws and institutions for consumer protection,” said Procon executive Fernando Capez, explaining why Brazil is fining Apple. “It needs to respect these laws and these institutions.” 

In October of 2020, Apple announced that it would no longer include chargers or earbuds in their iPhone boxes. The company cited “environmental concerns”.

But savvy consumers couldn’t help but be skeptical of Apple’s explanation. Some people thought that Apple’s “environmental decision” was simply a pretense. In reality, they thought it might be a gimmick to take more money from customers under the pretense of environmentalism.

For one, we fail to see how including chargers and earbuds in an iPhone package would help the environment. Wouldn’t individual boxes for each product simply contribute to more waste? We digress….

In general, consumers across the globe can’t help but…agree with Procon.

Anyone who is an Apple devotee (read: prisoner) knows that you can end up feeling trapped as a customer. You become roped into an endless cycle of buying products that seem to be diminishing in quality every year. Not only that, but every year, the iPhone becomes more expensive while customers get less bang for their buck.

But at some point, you feel like you have to buy Apple products. Because of how Apple designs their products, all of the technology you own (laptops, tablets, chargers, etc.) only works with Apple products.

Starting to buy a different brand would be akin to throwing away hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars you’ve already invested in Apple tech. To be an Apple customer is to be stuck in a vicious cycle.

Hopefully, other governments will follow suit. After all, big tech has been taking advantage of consumers for too long.

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