Facebook’s messaging service WhatsApp, will be blocked in Brazil for 72 hours. The ban will start this afternoon.
The messaging service has found itself in deep waters after recently rolling out end to end encryption. A judge from the Brazilian state of Sergpie has ordered telecom providers to block the messaging service throughout the country. Judge Marcel Montalvao has given orders to block the service in a dispute over access to encrypted data. The judge was hearing a case related to a drug investigation and ordered the company to provide chat records. WhatsApp argued that they could not provide the chat records since the encrypted chats cannot be decrypted by the company.
According to a local Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo the ban will start at 2 p.m local time today. Any telecom company that does not follow the court’s order will face a heavy fine.
WhatsApp’s response to the ban
Jan Koum CEO and co-Founder of WhatsApp said:
“Yet again millions of innocent Brazilians are being punished because a court wants WhatsApp to turn over the information we repeatedly said we don’t have. Not only do we encrypt messages end-to-end on WhatsApp to keep people’s information safe and secure, we also don’t keep your chat history on our servers. When you send an end-to-end encrypted message, no one else can read it – not even us. While we are working to get WhatsApp back up and running as soon as possible, we have no intention of compromising the security of our billion users around the world.”
This is not the first time that Brazil has given orders to ban WhatsApp services in the country. The service was banned for 48 hours last December however the ban was lifted 12 hours later.
“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,” said the company spokesperson. “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 this information we repeatedly said we don’t have.”