You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

WhatsApp blocked in Brazil again

ICE Graveyard 19/07/2016 Kate Conger

Brazil’s battle with Facebook over its encrypted messaging app, WhatsApp, continues to rage.

A Brazilian judge ordered telephone companies to cut off access to WhatsApp in the country after Facebook declined to provide chat logs related to a criminal investigation, Globo reports. Because WhatsApp messages are end-to-end encrypted, Facebook cannot access users’ messages and therefore cannot provide the court with the requested data.

This marks the fourth time a judge has blocked WhatsApp in the country after being denied access to messages. The most recent block occurred in May of this year.

“In recent months, people from all across Brazil have rejected judicial blocks of services like WhatsApp,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said. “Indiscriminate steps like these threaten people’s ability to communicate, to run their businesses, and to live their lives. As we’ve said in the past, we cannot share information we don’t have access to. We hope to see this block lifted as soon as possible.”

Previous WhatsApp bans have been ordered to last as long as 72 hours, but access has been typically restored more quickly. This time, telephone companies have been ordered to block WhatsApp indefinitely.

According to Globo, the judge in this case took offense at the way WhatsApp responded to the court’s demands, saying the company was treating Brazil like a “banana republic.” Judge Daniela Barbosa also criticized WhatsApp for responding to the court via email and in English, “as if this was the official language of this country.”

While WhatsApp is banned, other encrypted messaging apps remain available in Brazil. However, WhatsApp is hugely popular in Brazil, with over 100 million users, so cutting access to the app has a severe impact on the nation’s communications. Users have been able to circumvent previous bans by using a VPN service, and other circumvention techniques are outlined here.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon