Once Again All Of Whatsapp Is Being Blocked In Brazil Because A Judge Is Upset It Won't Turn Over Data

from the whats-up-brazil? dept

Brazilian judges are apparently not very big fans of the popular messaging app Whatsapp, which is owned by Facebook (but run independently). Judge Marcel Montalvao has ordered the app blocked entirely across Brazil, because Whatsapp has refused to provide data (which it likely does not have) to help out with a drug investigation. Any phone companies that don't block Whatsapp will be fined about $143,000 per day.

If this sounds familiar, it's because we went through this back in December in another case with another judge. And, of course, in March a Facebook (not Whatsapp) exec was arrested over a similar issue in a different case. When Whatsapp again refused to turn over information, because it could not, the judge had the exec arrested (another judge freed the exec pretty quickly).

Once again, Whatsapp points out that it's cooperated as much as possible:
“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 information we repeatedly said we don’t have.”
The order is shutting down Whatsapp for 72 hours, but considering just how widely the app is used there (it is basically the way many Brazilians communicate) the impact is pretty massive. As Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman over at the Intercept note, this is a ridiculous move that harms many people, but is also a sign of what's to come as governments continue to freak out over encrypted communications:
It is stunning to watch a single judge instantly shut down a primary means of online communication for the world’s fifth-largest country. The two Brazilian communication experts in the NYT wrote of the first WhatsApp shutdown: “the judge’s action was reckless and represents a potentially longer-term threat to the freedoms of Brazilians.” But there is no question that is just a sign of what is to come for countries far from Brazil: there will undoubtedly be similar battles in numerous countries around the world over what rights companies have to offer privacy protections to their users.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 May 2016 @ 11:46am

    This is like shutting down pubs and cafés because they will not give data on conversations held in their premises.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 2 May 2016 @ 11:52am

    Microchip implants are coming soon. Facial Recognition, forcing businesses to install cameras. How long until it's mandated that all those "private" cameras need to feed to the "Law?"

    A noose has been put around Lady Liberty's neck and as soon as it's tight enough, they will kick the chair she is standing on.

    I wonder how many things that have come to fruition if mentioned 15 years ago would have been written off as "Conspiracy theory."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 May 2016 @ 11:54am

    when are people going to realise that every time a stupid judge makes this sort of stupid decision, it is another nail into the coffin of freedom? every country in the world used to condemn countries like China, Russia, Iraq etc for removing freedom and privacy, stopping the use of various ways of communicating, blocking protesting, the list goes on and on. now we find that those countries are not the worst ones but instead we have the USA, The UK and France, followed by Sweden and others that are actually the main inhibitors of the things that are not only held most dear by the people, but millions died for trying to ensure those things carried on in those countries! what a change there has been in the world in 20years. now the countries that heralded freedom and privacy are the very ones with surveillance programs already in place with more harsh laws on the point of being enacted! in other words, the planet is becoming a massive dictatorship, one where freedom and privacy mean almost nothing and the government knowing when i last had a crap and where, plus what i had eaten is the most important!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Whatever's Lil' Buddy, 2 May 2016 @ 12:02pm

      Re:

      the planet is becoming a massive dictatorship, one where freedom and privacy mean almost nothing and the government knowing when i last had a crap and where, plus what i had eaten is the most important!!

      Yeah, ain't it great?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 2 May 2016 @ 12:02pm

    Erm, why not hand the encrypted messages? Sure it's a bunch of gibberish but when the judge asks the obligatory 'wtf?" just say that this is all they can see. You complied with the order. If they say "decrypt it" then you can simply show you can't.

    Of course, the circuit where this order came from seems rather clueless so there's that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 2 May 2016 @ 12:08pm

      Re:

      Funny as that would be, given the clueless actions of the judges involved so far in asking for the impossible they would probably take that as 'mocking' them/the court and just tack on more charges as a result.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Ninja (profile), 2 May 2016 @ 1:18pm

        Re: Re:

        I hear you and I agree. They'd need to teach the court about encryption and the likes. And from the encryption debate in the US we know there are people who simply can't understand.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 2 May 2016 @ 1:32pm

          Oh if only...

          Can't understand is one thing, that's at least possible to fix, the real problem comes from those that won't understand because doing so would require them to admit that their position is wrong, and their demands impossible.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 May 2016 @ 12:04pm

    Great example of the weakness of centralized communications.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 May 2016 @ 2:53pm

    Olympics

    A world full of foreign technology flowing into the country. What could go wrong?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 2 May 2016 @ 4:31pm

    Egotistical judges...

    ...appears to be a pandemic problem. Too many TD articles have already shown they're just as human as the rest of us and are prone to making really stupid rulings.

    Why the fuck do they have so much power as to shut down the communication systems of a country? Can a single judge shut down all the cell towers? The power plants?

    If people with this much power don't buckle quickly to humiliation, this is the sort of situation where lynching is in good order.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 3 May 2016 @ 12:05am

      Re: Egotistical judges...

      "Why the fuck do they have so much power as to shut down the communication systems of a country?"

      Presumably because their laws don't recognise this particular form of communication as vital as the reality and people do. I'd suggest they probably can't shut down telephone communications, mobile or power but the law hasn't caught up to the fact that can be equally important.

      So, even if shutting this down has the same effect on citizens as shutting down cell towers would in reality, they can get away with it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 May 2016 @ 8:22am

        Re: Re: Egotistical judges...

        They have so much power through a pathetic project called "Marco Civil da Internet" that got approved in 2014 by the leftists bastards.

        The judge used it to take down the app for everyone.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Dave Cortright (profile), 3 May 2016 @ 12:09am

    Blocks can be circumvented...

    And new services can pop up overnight to take their place. If the judges keep doing this, app makers will simply implement John Gilmore's precient thought: "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 May 2016 @ 6:19am

    This is just an excuse to quench competition in favor of a worse app, hopefully one Brazilian ran. It's just another anti-competitive move.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 May 2016 @ 6:53am

    It's a shame that people that people in Brazil that already have the app will be unaffected by this, and all people will have to do is download Whatsapp by other means - and also be able to continue to use it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 May 2016 @ 8:15am

    I remember reading an article here applauding that aberration called "Marco Civil da Internet" in Brazil. It's a law made to "help take care of the internet".

    And it's based on that huge pile of crap that this pathetic judge got legal ground to do what he just did.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 May 2016 @ 4:10pm

    Isn't this covered by the ISDS? I'm pretty sure What's App can sue the Brazil government over loss of profits.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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