back to article Brazilian physicists boycott Dell

A group of Brazilian physicists is trying to launch a boycott by the country's academic community to fight Dell Computer's war on terror. The campaign is a response to Dell's security checks, which take a hard line against Anti-American scheming with an impregnable barrier of drop down options and radio buttons. The story …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Derbyshire, UK and Dell

    Now if Dell really wanted to it may wish to consider relocating all of its business to Derbyshire in the uK.

    In particular it may wish to consider parts with a postcode of DE11

    Dell UK

    DE11 n??

    would seem to have a charm of its own yes?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some additional information

    I've just read the original on "El Folha" ;-) The interesting thing was, even though the idealistic physicist said he wouldn't sign the so called "Export Compliance" contract (which should be "printed on university letterhead and signed" before they would even ship the machines), Dell actually shipped them anyway. Also, he took offense when learned that he couldn't give up and was compelled to sign the contract, since "all conversations [regarding the order] had been recorded". He decided to return the computers regardless, but now Dell would have to reimburse not him directly but his funding agency, and explain themselves to said agency (incidentally, governmental agency), and the government itself. By the way, Dell here is actually Dell's Brazilian subsidiary, selling computers assembled by cheap local labour, from parts probably manufactured somewhere in Asia, while enjoying fiscal benefits from being "local".

  3. Adam Azarchs

    Not Dell's fault

    The export restrictions are required by the US government. If they object to them, they should avoid ALL US products. Somehow.

    Yes, the regulations are dumb, but as much as I dislike Dell this isn't their fault.

  4. Ben Ruset

    Dell is a US Company

    and ultimately has to comply with US Export rules. It doesn't matter if Paulo Gomes wants to boycot Dell or not. He may not have to follow US policies, but the US based company he is dealing with does.

    Simple solution -- buy a system from a non-US vendor.

  5. kain preacher

    I love this

    do not have to justify my actions before anyone, and I am not obliged to follow US policies

    NO but dell does.

    Check mate

  6. J

    Re: Not Dell's fault

    "If they object to them, they should avoid ALL US products. Somehow."

    Sure, but it does not really solve the problem. Some other cases that were related in the Brazilian press show that even if the US has nothing to do with the transaction, they can still screw people up.

    One example was some microwave equipment that was shipped from Portugal, by Portuguese scientists, to Brazilian collaborators in Brazil. Somehow, the equipment ended up passing through the US... well, it didn't pass. The US held it and wouldn't allow it to go away. Another case involves the denial of the US in approving the shipment of some equipment from Switzerland to Brazil for testing or the like.

    On a more "personal" note: as far as I understood a majority of the new buses in Cuba were sold to them by my father. Brazilian VW buses, that is, completely made in Brazil, and pretty good ones by the way. No doubledeckers though. :-) They were intended to replace many of the 1950's buses still running in the island. Well, the US took a while to approve the sale... At least they did approve it, but that's not the point. Why should we be forced by the stupid bully in the playground to do something like that? If we want to have commercial ties with whomever, specially selling something like *buses* we should have it and fuckl the USA, as that old song says. If there was any justice in the world, the US wouldn't be able to interfere and would get punished if it did. But since justice is not really available...

  7. Grant

    @Ben Ruset

    "Simple solution -- buy a system from a non-US vendor."

    i.e. boycott Dell like he suggests

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Zulon


    Just lie!

  10. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Too Late

    I would have been very tempted to reply. "Very sorry. We've already sold them on to Cuba"

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DE11 - DELL

    DE11 = Swadlincote - of dear.

    I don't think Dell will want to move.

  12. Frank-Jan Kamenz

    Ridiculous or .......

    A physician who blames Dell for restrictions, which are not imposed by Dell.

    These restrictions are imposed by the USA government on all exports from the USA. This includes hardware, software and technology.

    As an ex employee from Dell, one had to study this export compliance law and sign off, that you will follow it.

    So if this very bright mind want to boycott Dell for something Dell has no influence on, I would say be my guest. But than also be a real man and boycott ALL things under this law!

    He would probably be unemployed before he could think.

    Would it be a good thing to boycot the USA products for this reason? I let the reader be the judge.

  13. De Zeurkous


    Does any potentially clueful person use that crap? :X I expected physicists to know better and get some non-IBM workstations in instead...

    ...which would make this a non-issue.

  14. Shane McCarrick

    Re: Dell is an American Company

    Dell may very well be an American company- subject to American rules- but those self same American rules mean that anyone who wishes to trade with them must impose those American restrictions on their other customers. Hence the Sony Playstation 3 is subject to the exact selfsame export restrictions as a Dell Inspiron laptop- despite the fact that the PS3 is uses no parts manufactured in the US and is actually assembled in China- by a Japanese corporation.

    It is a case of the US imposing its own rules on the rest of the world and expecting them to be followed- which is imperialistic hogwash.

    While I agree that there should be reasonable restrictions on weapons development etc- who in their right mind is going to design weapons of mass destruction on a lowly desktop computer (or a PS3 for that matter- irrespective of the fact that it now allows you to run an OS of your choice from the start menu......)

    Well done to the physicist- I agree wholeheartedly with his actions. I do believe that he is doing the right thing for the wrong reasons though....... Its almost like someone saying- "No- its wrong for me to run down little old ladies on high street"- and when questioned explaining their reason with "I might damage the bumper of my car"- not that its morally wrong to knock down pedestrians.......


  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I should point out that if it's a Dell laptop with a Sony battery, the machine itself could be considered a weapon of mass destruction...

    At least if they boycott Dell, they won't have to worry about their motherboard failing just out of warranty.

  16. Alexander Orlov

    Ben Ruset: Not a solution

    This is just a simple solution for simple (flat thinking) people: "Simple solution -- buy a system from a non-US vendor."

    Have you already noticed that we live in a globalized economy? There are no US corporations but only US resp. EU LAW dominated transnational corporations. In fact transnational corporations have their seat in the US/EU but they act globally. So Dell outsources its manufacturing facilities to countries with cheap labor costs like China but ships the products according to its country seat laws. So it is ridiculous to speak about a "free choice" of the vendor.

  17. Alistair Silver badge

    Trade law and buying things on the innerweb

    Keep in mind that we have a neat situation developing - US export laws get applied as long as the us can see the transaction -

    Indian company based in Dehli has a website with Akamai (US hosting op) hosted on Akamai's German systems -- sells something to a chinese purchasor that goes via -- say -- South Korea

    So - there's a US export law wrapped around this - Just how in the HELL is this logical.

    Keep in mind that as far back as the in 1940's the US have been beaten over the head with " be very afraid -- they'll take your freedom away" - its unfortunate that the bulk of the population world wide can see what this has done to American culture, law, society, moralism, ethics etc, but so few in the USA can see it.

    There is currently a popular song with the line " When you control the news, you can tell it any way you want"

    Bush has em all by the shorts, simply because the media wont let em see outside the box....

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Libya not on US sanctions list since 2004

    Looks like our jittery friends at Dell are protecting us from those evil Libyans...when they haven't been evil for 3 years...duh.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well done, that man ...

    Nothing at all to do with the fact that Dell's server kit is, in my experience at least, complete and utter crap?

    IBM's fine if you don't mind paying a fairly hefty premium for those three magic letters, but the last time I had to spec up a system to crunch hard-core numbers (a 128CPU Xeon-based cluster) I ended up going with HP ProLiant/ProCurve kit.

    Of course, HP will still be subject to the same US export guidelines, but at least their technical support won't stink to high heaven (again, from personal experience - compute node fries its processor, engineer on site within 4 hours, job's a good 'un)

    Or, alternatively, there's the build-your-own method ...

  20. Curtis

    Export Restrictions

    As I understood it when working for a Dell outsourcer in 2001/2002, these restrictions were following a UN resolution about certain tech being allowed in hostile, belligerent countries. Before the stink, Sony shipped some 4000 PS2s to Iraq, in violation of the US's side of the enforcement. You may remember this stink, Sony got slapped with a monster fine. Everyone was decrying this law then and misunderstanding the reason. Then, after Iraq "fell", it was discovered that the system's video cards were being back-engineered to provide terrain following guidance for "medium range" missles.

    " WASHINGTON Saddam Hussein, the president of Iraq, has bought as many as 4,000 of Sony's PlayStation and new high-tech PlayStation 2 game consoles, and may be using them to construct a sophisticated missile-guidance system, according to U.S. intelligence and customs officials.

    United Nations sanctions imposed after the 1991 Gulf War prohibit shipments of computer hardware and technology to Iraq. Video-game consoles are allowed.


    After PlayStation 2's Japanese debut in March, the Japanese trade ministry feared the console's ability to quickly render high-quality images could be adapted for military use. As a result, it banned exports to such rogue states as Iran, Iraq, Libya and North Korea.


    Some people will see this as "american bullying", but since these companies are domiciled in the US, they have to follow US export guidelines. And since the US is merely upholding the UN sanctions, well, that gets swept under the rug.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Go to somewhere that doesn't force you to lie

    I have first hand experience of a foreign visitor from a "Axis of Evil" state (Iran) wanting to buy a Dell laptop. They did not want to lie and said it would be exported to Iran in the online workflow during ordering. Dell UK actually called and explained they were not able to sell it to them.

    So, said visitor goes to PC World and then buys a nice new (more expensive) Sony Laptop. No questions asked (well, aside from the stupid 'would you want an extended warranty' sort of questions). On the way back home home to "Axis of Evil" country, PC goes through UK customs, HMRC even give visitor the VAT back on it !

    Iran, Cuba and North Korea can get Pentium class PCs easily. The restrictions are a farce. Yes, don't sell Cray supercomputers or IBM Big Blue to North Korea in case they build better/bigger nuclear weapons - but stopping Cubans from having access to basic PC class computing is entirely political and not related to protection of the US from military harm.

    Though there are non-us PC manufacturers, the fact that there are no alternative equally powerful processors available from non-US companies means the US is truely dominant in this regard.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    US Imposing rules on the rest of the world

    So far, we're the only nation to have conquered it. You want us to go away? It'll take a shitload of missiles.

    (And, for crap's sake, what kind of scientist uses Dell kit anyway?)

  23. Alan Donaly

    lie or build it yourself

    If it's true that Dell builds computers in Brazil then there is a good chance you could simply build your own to your specs it would probably be a better computer anyway or you could just lie I would this just more bullshit from the bullshit factory no reason to worry.

  24. Blain Hamon

    Globalized lowest common denominator

    That's the sticky wicket. A company in a country has to abide by that country's rules. If a company wants to do business in a country, they pretty much need to have an office there.

    So a global company has to follow all the rules of all the countries they do business in.

    So boycott all vendors that do this stupid questionairre. Fine. Order the parts and build your own. Only problem is that the chips are made by Intel, AMD, etc. Who also have US offices. And we're back to square 1.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wassenaar Arangment.

    That's the name of one of the export restriction agreements that a good number of countries are signatories to.

    One major component that cannot be exported is Microsoft Windows.

    The encryption technologies it contains are classed as munitions.

    More than one company has been caught for such black market exports, and have been severely punished for chasing the "quick buck" and flaunting exactly those export laws.

    One very large Japanese company of my acquaintance is currently serving out a 6 month ban on all exports because they exported one of their machines with the export paperwork understating the machines capabilities to bypass the trade restrictions, only to have the machine subsequently find it's way into Libya.

    Yamaha are currently in trouble over trying to export drone helicopters into China.

    Varian Inc. has also been in trouble in the past for exporting two computers for mass spectrometers, as the pre-installed Windows operating system violated export laws.

    Any company that breaks these laws is looking for very serious trouble, so in this case, I would have to say I don't blame Dell in the slightest.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The US conquered the world?

    When did this happen? Surely, even if they mobilised every red-neck they wouldn't have enough people. In fact, when did the US win a war? They had to side with the French to kick the Brits out; failed in an attempt on Canada, for God's sake; same for Mexico; were too cowardly to get into WWII until they realised that the Allies were going to lose and that they were the next target; well done, they beat Spain, pity about Cuba; helped out a bit in WWI (not really their problem, but still they're supposed to be allies); had a go in Korea, oops, no, that wasn't a war was it; 'helped' various people all over the Americas and the world without ever really achieving anything other than alienating both the attackers and their helpees.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Michael Dell is a poodle

    Mr. Dell hisself is a Bush kisser - when he had money to give away, he was supporting "Make every Republican count'. He was also behind a campaign to stop the US gov from buying ThinkPads because they were manufactured by godless commies (Lenovo), and were loaded with spyware to steal precious government secrets. Well, they were loaded with spyware, but that was just Windows.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Talking of Lenovo

    Reduce your carbon footprint and stop buying Chinese.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its not Dell's Fault, Honest

    You've just stumbled across the reason why we don't make high-tech stuff for export in the USA any more. Our government has got all sorts of laws and enforcement agencies that are supposed to stop us from exporting sensitive technologies to unfriendly countries. All Dell's doing is complying with US law for export of this stuff.

    If you think this is silly, then I might remark that you need an export license for the RC4 stream cypher used in WEP (i.e. a $30 Access Point). Yes, its a worthless, insecure, cryptosystem that's about as secure as wrapping the kit in damp tissue paper. You try telling that to the government. Its a cypher with such-and-such a key. You'll notice that RSA is based in Switzerland and that the new coding standard is Dutch. Now you know why -- "Anything but American".

    We've probably done incalculable damage to our technological capabilities and even our economy because of this but its not shown up because we've been too busy making short term profits from offshoring that its disguised what's really going on. (What's really going on is a chronic shortage of engineers -- it took a generation to dumb down our engineering capability but we worked on it.) Governments don't think like this, though. We still think that we own all the technology out there, nobody else's capabilities are worth a damn, and until we learn otherwise we're stuck with this stupidity.

    Incidentally, like the faithful poodle the UK's government has been dutifully trotting along behind, even enforcing US law on UK soil for us. Its worth checking into -- its not so obvious now because nobody buys stuff from us now but back in the early 80s it was a big deal.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    one rule for them...etc.

    Of course, if you're an actual government you can sell what you like to who you like, or else just 'buy' an entire nation through invasion.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    There are physicists in Brazil?

    Who knew.

  32. Billy Verreynne

    What happened.. simply not buying Dell because they make crap?

    Besides, it is kind of idiotic to rant against Dell for (idiotic) US export policies. Dell is not the only one. I've dealt with those same check boxes and combo boxes when downloading from numerous times through the years.

  33. Robert Grant

    Export laws != imperialism

    That is all. As to why the laws are there, why bother buying Dell etc I agree - but get your argument right.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "....- subject to American rules- but those self same American rules mean that anyone who wishes to trade with them must impose those American restrictions on their other customers."

    Just like the old BullShit5750 from the Civil Service. You may not want BullShit5750, the vast majority of your clients may not want BullShit5750, but if you supply someone who does, you must be compliant in order for them to be so. You then go on to force this on *your* suppliers......etc. ad infinitum.

    And we think computer viruses are clever at self-replicating, self-perpetuating mayhem, bloody amateurs compared to bureaucracy......


  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Sure ... lets export useless stuff like PC's and large bore pipes to backwater nations that might want to build Weapons of Mass Dillapidation for the rest of the world to laugh at - look up Project Babylon on Wiki! It's the poor ordinary citizens who always loose out because the politicos can't be nice to each other!

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Complaining at Dell is the right thing to do

    The US govt. is not going to change it's policies because some foreigner complains. However, if enough people kick up a stink and Dell starts to see sales drop, *they* will lobby the government. Same with other companies.

  37. Mike Smith

    Wassenaar Arangment

    > One major component that cannot be exported is Microsoft Windows.

    > The encryption technologies it contains are classed as munitions.

    Presumably that's because it's full of logic bombs?

    #include <coat.h>

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trust me it's just for the Lawyers

    I went shooting just outside Vegas and had to sign a form declaring.

    a) I don't intend commiting suicide

    b) I don't intend killing anyone else.

    When I asked about these dumb questions, it turns out so long as if I had replied "No", they can't be sued, even if I go Wako!

  39. John A Blackley

    @Wassenaar Arrangement

    Quite right sir (or madam).

    leaving aside all the braying about crap Dell machines, US Imperialism, Michael Dell's political affiliations, etc., etc., this has nothing to do with any of these.

    The United States is a signatory to the Wassenaar Agreement. This is a multilateral agreement on export controls for conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies. Signatory countries are: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States. (Israel didn't sign it but agreed to abide by it.)

    So, if your country's on the list then it, too, may be an imperialist tool with industrialists who are in the pocket of right-wing politicians and who make crap computing equipment. Or, alternatively, we could always do a little learning before running off at the mouth on El Reg.

  40. BD

    Hooray for Dell!

    The guy admits he is collaborating with Cuban Physicists...he is the exact kind of customer Dell is trying to avoid. Sounds like the system is working.

    BTW, I may go out and buy a Dell computer just to register my support for their screening program.

  41. Colt

    brazilian import taxes

    yes as an american company dell must comply with these laws but if brazil didnt have some ass backwards policies themselves they could have a much stronger electronics industry... as is there is a heavy tarif on all imported electronics parts and companies who who try to do business there.

    This was put into place in hopes of stimulating local electronics industry growth but has not been followed through on at all, which is very typical of the brazilian government... It is very common for people who travel to brazil often to bring laptops, digi cams and video game systems to sell while there to finance their trip because buying even a ps2 memory card will cost about 70 dollars US... about 120 rais. Thats allot of money to your average brazilian.

    But in this case considering hes already got the machines does it realy matter how he fills out forms? dell and he us trade dept would be hard pressed to try to make the brazilian government as the fudning body/owner return the machines.

    yes these laws are total bs, I am respnsible for distributing token cards for my company. All the newer tokens come from china but i cant export them to employees in china even if their at a company location.

    how much sense does that make?

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @There are physicists in Brazil?

    Well, we do spend quite a lot of their time on the beach frolicking with the math babes, and we're indistinguishable from the computer science guys on the sand-floored bars, so it is no wonder you've not noticed us.

  43. James Pickett


    IIRC, when Evelyn Waugh visited the US, he had to fill in an entry form that asked if he intended to “subjugate the government of the United States." He wrote, “sole purpose of visit,” and was detained for a week...

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