Brazilian judge orders operators to block access in latest battle between country and WhatsApp
Access to WhatsApp has been blocked in Brazil for the second time in six months, affecting more than 100 million users in the country.
A judge in the Northeastern state of Segpipe has ordered mobile operators to block Facebook’s instant messaging and VoIP service for a period of 72 hours for reasons that are not legally being disclosed. The ruling applies nationwide, not just in the state
Brazilian authorities have clashed with WhatsApp repeatedly in recent months, especially over access to messages sent over the platform.
WhatsApp Brazil block
In December, a judge in Sao Paulo ordered a 48 hour ban, but this was later overturned. And in March, Facebook’s vice president for Latin America in March was arrested following a court order for WhatsApp to provide access to the messages of an alleged gang member to assist with a drug-trafficking investigation. He was later released.
WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum has expressed his disappointment in the ruling, reiterating that communications are protected by end-to-end encryption.
“Yet again millions of innocent Brazilians are being punished because a court wants WhatsApp to turn over information we repeatedly said we don’t have,” he said in a Facebook post. “Not only do we encrypt messages end-to-end on WhatsApp to keep people’s information safe and secure, we also don’t keep your chat history on our servers. When you send an end-to-end encrypted message, no one else can read it – not even us.
“While we are working to get WhatsApp back up and running as soon as possible, we have no intention of compromising the security of our billion users around the world.”
TechWeekEurope has contacted WhatsApp for further information.
The block is the latest in a series of legal battles between the technology industry and governments. In the most high profile clash, Apple refused to entertain the idea of unlocking an iPhone in connection with mass shootings in California, before the FBI was able to gain access using a third party method.