Judge Orders 48-Hour WhatsApp Suspension in Brazil

22 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Brazil Pulls the Plug on WhatsApp for 48 Hours.

RIO DE JANEIRO – WhatsApp is blocked throughout Brazil following a judicial order requiring cell phone operators in the country to disable the messaging app for 48 hours. SAO PAULO, Brazil (AFP) — A Brazilian court has ordered cellular service providers nationwide to block the popular WhatsApp smartphone application for two days until midnight Saturday, in a move roundly denounced by parent company Facebook.

The TechCrunch website says it is used by 93% of the country’s internet population and is especially popular among young people and the poor who take advantage of its free text message and internet telephone service. The unprecedented 48-hour blockage served to implement a Sao Paulo state court order that had requested WhatsApp cooperate in a criminal investigation. WhatsApp chief executive Jan Koum said he was “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”. “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.” Brazilian media has reported that Judge Sandra Regina Nostre Marques applied the ban in relation to the app’s withholding of messages relating to a suspect in a drug-trafficking investigation.

Mark Zuckerberg, who heads WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook, reacted with a Facebook post calling it “a sad day for Brazil.” He says the company is working to get the block reversed. The Brazilian WhatsApp ban came after telecoms companies in Brazil hit out at the app, arguing that by offering free messaging and chat it was stopping people from taking up phone contracts. Brazilian telecommunications companies have long complained that the free app, which allows users to talk using the Internet, undermines their business.

Rival messaging services have already been reporting surges in user numbers, with Telegram, an instant messaging service that encrypts communication between users, reporting more than 1.5 million Brazilians had joined since the court order was made. He suggested that people use Facebook’s Messenger app instead — despite having the same owner, that app still works and offers almost identical features. The app has grown popular in party because it offers a way to talk without being snooped on, and it now claims to have grown to over 60 million active users in 18 months.

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