A Brazilian judged order phone companies in the country to block Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) WhatsApp messaging services, due to the technology company not turning over data in a criminal investigation. The services will be blocked for 72 hours, starting this afternoon.
On April 26, Judge Marcel Montalvao ordered WhatsApp to turn over chat records because of a current drug investigation, but WhatsApp claims that it cannot access them in an unencrypted form, which is why the company cannot give the required chat records to the court.
According to TechCrunch, a local newspaper named Folha de S.Paulo reported that phone companies will begin to block the services of WhatsApp at 2 p.m., local time, and that if some companies in the country decide to not follow orders to cut off the services, they will have to pay a fine of 500,000 reais, which is $143,000, a day. Phone companies like Tim Participacoes SA, Oi SA, Telefonica Brasil SA, Claro SA and Nextel already agreed to block the service.
Not the first clash with WhatsApp
Judge Montalvao ordered to block the access to WhatsApp in the country last December and, although it was set for 48 hours, it only lasted 12 hours.
Also, the judge ordered to arrest, Diego Dzodan, Facebook’s vice president for Latin America, in March, because WhatsApp was not complying with police requests to access the messages in the service. However, Facebook said that WhatsApp works independently and that Mr. Dzodan has no control over WhatsApp data.
Both, this service cut off and the one that happened on Monday, are related to the same case linked to drug trafficking.
A WhatsApp spokesperson told TechCrunch that the company is disappointed because of the judge’s rule, because it is not the first time Brazil orders to block WhatsApp, and the decision is punishing 100 million Brazilians who depend on the service to communicate.