Two day shutdown ordered by judge following WhatsApp’s failure to share messages from alleged gang member
WhatsApp users in Brazil were left shocked today after the instant messaging service was ordered to shut down for the next two days by a Sao Paulo court.
The ruling came after WhatsApp had reportedly failed on multiple occasions to co-operate in a criminal investigation related to a drug trafficking trial.
Judge Sandra Regina Nostre Marques ordered the 48-hour shut-down, which she said was legal under terms of the country’s internet legislation, after discovering that WhatsApp had persisted in ignoring its rulings.
The Brazilian newspaper Folha said that the Sao Paulo court tried to gain access to the WhatsApp messages of an alleged gang member, but the company refused the share the messages.
“We are disappointed in the short-sighted decision to cut off access to WhatsApp, a communication tool that so many Brazilians have come to depend on, and sad to see Brazil isolate itself from the rest of the world,” WhatsApp chief executive Jan Koum said in a statement.
The BBC says that WhatsApp is reported to be the most used application in Brazil, with about 93 million users, and around 93 percent of young people in the country saying that they use it in order to combat high mobile price plans.
Koum also noted that nine in ten Brazilian doctors used WhatsApp to talk to their patients.
The move was also condemned by other leading technology figures, included Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who said that he was “stunned” by the news.
“We are working hard to get this block reversed,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post on his Facebook page.
“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.”
“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.”