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Brazilian court reverses yet another WhatsApp ban

Engadget Engadget 3/05/2016 Andrew Dalton
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Access to WhatsApp has been reinstated in Brazil just 24 hours after Judge Marcel Montalvão ordered the country's five largest cellular service providers to block the messaging service.

Yesterday's court order to ban the app stemmed from a disagreement over whether WhatsApp could (or would) decrypt and hand over chat records allegedly related to a drug investigation.

The Facebook-owned messaging app has more than 100 million users in Brazil and reaches over 75 percent of the country's mobile subscribers, Reuters reports. In a statement posted on Facebook yesterday, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum said the company was working quickly to get its services back online but that "we have no intention of compromising the security of our billion users around the world."

The temporary ban was actually Brazil's second attempt to block the service in the past six months. In December, Judge Montalvão ordered the service be shut down for 48 hours, but the ban lasted only 12 hours before it was overturned. In March, the Brazilian authorities attempted to force Facebook and WhatsApp to relinquish user data by arresting Facebook's Latin America VP Diego Dzodan. Dzodan was released a day later, when a judge declared the arrest was "unlawful coercion."

After today's reversal, Koum writes: "We're humbled by the great support of people across Brazil, and appreciate your patience as the legal process unfolded. ... The last thing we want is to see WhatsApp blocked again."

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