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.

Filed Under: blocked, brazil, encryption, going dark, messaging
Companies: facebook, whatsapp


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  1. 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"

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