May 3, 2016
A judge in Brazil has ordered telecom providers to block WhatsApp in the country in a bid to gain access to data from the Facebook-owned messaging service.
A state judge from the Brazilian state of Sergipe on Monday suspended the use of WhatsApp for 72 hours because the social network refused to share data with Brazilian authorities.
Brazilian phone companies shuttered access to WhatsApp’s text message and Internet telephone service at 2 p.m.
“After cooperating to the full extent of our ability with the local courts, we are disappointed a judge in Sergipe decided yet again to order the block of WhatsApp in Brazil,” a WhatsApp spokesman said in a statement to the media.
This is not the first time a Brazilian judge has issued such an order. A similar order was issued in December and, in March, Facebook vice-president for Latin America, Diego Dzodan, was arrested for failing to disclose messages sent through its WhatsApp messaging service. Dzodan was released after one day in custody.
The messages sought by authorities were wanted to aid in the investigation of a major drug smuggling operation. The new ban is related to the same investigation.
WhatsApp, however, says it does not store customers’ communications making it impossible to comply with the courts’ requests.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg expressed his outrage in a blog post back in December — and it is likely his feeling this time around will not have changed.
“This is a sad day for Brazil. Until today, Brazil has been an ally in creating an open Internet. Brazilians have always been among the most passionate in sharing their voice online,” Zuckerberg said.
“I am stunned that our efforts to protect people’s data would result in such an extreme decision by a single judge to punish every person in Brazil who uses WhatsApp. We hope the Brazilian courts quickly reverse course. If you’re Brazilian, please make your voice heard and help your government reflect the will of its people.”
WhatsApp is used by more than 100 million people in Brazil.
Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.