Once again in Brazil, Judge Marcel Maia Montalvão, from the Northeast state of Sergipe, ordered to the phone companies the suspension of Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp messaging service for 72 hours due to the company’s failure to turn over data, which the courts say are important for a current drug trafficking investigation.
This is the second time in less than six months, being the first time in December of 2015 and blocked for 48 hours, and the reason is due to a failing to turn over data in a criminal investigation. The decision is expected to affect again more than 100 million Brazilians who use the service of this app on a daily basis.
The rule was issued on April 26, and it became public today when it was served on mobile service providers. It took effect at 2 p.m. local time (1 p.m. ET); people in Brazil tried to use the service could not connect, nor could they send or receive any messages due to this. Also, who doesn’t obey this rule, will subject the service providers to a fine of 500,000 Brazilian reals (BRL) per day, which is about $140,000 per day.
“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. 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,” said WhatsApp in a statement
Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp is the most-used app in Brazil, a country of 200 million people, and it’s the country’s second-most used app. An estimated 91 percent of Brazilian mobile users nationwide that are more than 100 million people use WhatsApp to communicate with one another with no cost at all. Let’s also remember too that WhatsApp has 900 million active daily users around the world that mean that about 11 percent of total active users of WhatsApp have become inactive for 3 days.
Brazilians spent this morning, in the hours before the blocking of the app took effect, frantically sending each other messages on WhatsApp warning that the service was going down for three days.
Back in Ban
In December last year, a judge in Sao Paulo ordered WhatsApp to be blocked for 48 hours after it refused to comply with a court order, affecting for the very first time their over 100 million local users and evoked an outrage on social media. The block was lifted in about 12 hours.
Back in March, federal police detained a Facebook executive for failing to cooperate with judicial orders related to information on the company’s website in an investigation of drug trafficking.