Update: Supreme Court acted swiftly and rejected the government’s blocking of WhatsApp messenger in Brazil. The official statement by WhatsApp added below:
“We’re pleased that people can access WhatsApp again in Brazil. The Supreme Court swiftly rejected today’s block, finding that it was disproportionate and violated people’s fundamental freedom of expression. In his decision, the chief justice stressed how people from across Brazil, including members of the judiciary, rely on WhatsApp to communicate with others every day, and that they bear the greatest burden when a service is blocked. We hope that this puts an end to blocks that have punished millions of Brazilians and that people can continue using services like WhatsApp to stay in touch with those who matter to them.” – WhatsApp spokesperson
Brazil has blocked Whatsapp for the third time in a single year. This time, a Brazilian judge ordered to block Whatsapp throughout the nation as the instant messaging app did not reveal user information to the court for a crime investigation. This could mean quite some loss to the company as many users might just shift to other instant messaging applications like Telegram, WeChat, etc.The last time Whatsapp was blocked nationwide was in May this year. As a result of the same, more that 100 million users all across Brazil moved on to Telegram. The telecom providers in Brazil were informed to block Whatsapp at about 11.30 AM according to the local time. Although, there was no instant impact, but as it seems now, the effect is quite evident.
Whatsapp probably did not comply with the Brazilian Court’s order to provide them with information with the stand point of privacy concerns. This is not the first time that a social messaging app has had to deal with such requirements from the government.
“In recent months, people from all across Brazil have rejected judicial blocks of services like WhatsApp.”, said a Whatsapp spokesperson. “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.”
Not so long ago, the people of the United States also came across such a situation, where in a Federal Court ordered Apple Inc. to provide them with some critical information regarding a case. The iPhone makers stood strong with the stand point of privacy of their users. The case got a lot of attention and many tech giants supported Apple Inc.
The Whatsapp block has come in at a very crucial time in Brazil. With Rio Olympics just a few week away, people were certainly depending a lot on Whatsapp for instant communications. Well, with Whatsapp gone, people might as well move on to other instant messaging apps and this time for good. The judge has also ordered the company to pay an amount of $50,000 per day until they agree upon releasing the information.
Well, it has to be seen that whether instant messaging app agrees to pay the amount or release the information or decides to walk away from the country. In any case, things will be interesting with Rio Olympics in line.