Brazil freezes $6 million in Facebook funds over WhatsApp dispute

WhatsApp Encryption

Brazil is at it again, targeting WhatsApp in yet another chapter of its long-standing dispute with the company. This time round, a court has frozen 19.5 million reais ($6.07 million) in Facebook funds after the chat app refused to hand over messages related to an international drug case.

If you’re wondering why Facebook’s assets were blocked, it’s because WhatsApp doesn’t have any bank accounts in Brazil. The nation did something similar a few months ago when it arrested the parent company’s Vice President for Latin America in connection to a dispute with the messaging app.

According to local news service Globo G1, Brazil’s federal police have stated that WhatsApp had repeatedly defied orders asking it to turn over texts sent and received by suspected members of an international cocaine smuggling ring which has been under law enforcement’s radar since January this year.

Also See: WhatsApp may get banned in India

The police claim that it will be impossible to prove the links between the people arrested in recent raids and their partners across Spain, Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia unless they get their hands on the data. After 5 months of fruitless demands for the messages, a judge has now frozen 19.5 million reais in Facebook funds, the amount WhatsApp had to pay as fines for its non-compliance.

All this punishment may lead to nothing in the end, since WhatsApp had previously declared that it doesn’t store any messages on its servers. The app had rolled out full end-to-end encryption earlier this year for all its users across the world. The security protocol basically means that no one but the sender and receiver can read any media or text which gets sent through the application.

This is just the latest saga in the Brazil-WhatsApp tussle over data. The country has shut down the platform several times before for days at a time, affecting millions of users in the nation.