The war raging between Brazil and WhatsApp has flared up again, with the country deciding to briefly block the app over its non-compliance in a criminal investigation. This is the third time the nation has cut off the popular messaging application, affecting over 100 million users.
A Brazilian judge had ordered the blackout on WhatsApp because the company refused to hand over chat logs related to an ongoing criminal inquiry. However, instead of targeting WhatsApp or parent company Facebook, the ruling specifically asked 5 telecom operators to stop carrying data for the app at the risk of having to pay daily fines amounting to 50000 real.
Brazil keeps coming up with inventive ways to punish WhatsApp. A previous occasion saw $6 million of Facebook’s funds getting frozen since the former has no bank accounts in the nation. It had even gone as far as to actually arrest the latter’s Vice President for Latin America prior to that.
While earlier blanket bans went on for up to 3 days previously, the new one only lasted a few hours thanks to a Supreme Court judge overturning the lower court’s order, questioning whether it was reasonable and proportionate in the first place. The judge who had ordered the ban apparently took offense at the way WhatsApp was responding to the court’s demands.
According to Globo, he thought WhatsApp was treating Brazil like a banana republic and criticized it for responding to the court via an email written in English rather than the country’s official language. The company for its part has made it clear that it cannot hand over information it has no access to due to end-to-end encryption.