WhatsApp Blocked In Brazil — Again

WhatsApp Is Blocked In Brazil — Again

Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp messaging service was ordered blocked in Brazil for the second time in less than six months for failing to turn over data in a criminal investigation. The service is likely to have about 100 million users in the country. The reason for the temporary ban hasn't yet been shown, but earlier bans have come in response to Facebook's refusal to comply with federal investigators in ongoing criminal cases.

from the northeastern state of Sergipe, Judge Marcel Montalvao, told phone companies to block WhatsApp for 72 hours, according to a statement posted on the court’s website Monday.

“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,” WhatsApp said in a statement. “This decision punishes more than 100 million Brazilians who rely on our service to communicate, run their businesses, and more, in order to force us to turn over the information we repeatedly said we don’t have.” 

In the hours after the WhatsApp ban produced results, WhatsApp’s competitor, Telegram, trended on Twitter in Brazil. Telegram offers some encryption to customers but is able to access their communications if it gets a court order. iMessage, which protects users’ messages with end-to-end encryption, trended on Twitter as well as users insisted each other to switch communication methods. 

In the hours after the WhatsApp boycott produced results, WhatsApp's rival, Telegram, inclined on Twitter in Brazil. Telegram offers some encryption to clients, however, can get to their correspondences in the event that it gets a court request. iMessage, which ensures clients' messages with end-to-end encryption, slanted on Twitter and additionally clients encouraged each other to switch specialized strategies.

“Considering the political crisis Brazil has been struggling with, shutting down the main medium of communication is not trivial at all,” Mariana Cunha e Melo, an attorney based in Brazil, told TechCrunch. “In Brazil, the poor and the rich, they all communicate via WhatsApp. People have several groups they use to communicate to their friends, business partners, etc. It is not easy to simply migrate everything to Telegram from time to time.”

Hotspot Shield, a well-known VPN service that allows its customers to skirt regional limitations on content, told TechCrunch that it saw establishments spike in Brazil after the WhatsApp block was declared. A Hotspot Shield representative said the company saw 82,000 new installations of its VPN in Brazil during the first hour of the block.

In December, a judge in Sao Paulo ordered WhatsApp be blocked for 48 hours after it declined to follow a court order, affecting its more than 100 million local users and causing outrage on social media. The block was lifted in around 12 hours. In March, federal police arrested a Facebook executive for failing to cooperate with legal orders associated with information on the company’s website in an investigation of drug trafficking.

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