Not all countries agree with Facebook’s encrypted messaging app, WhatsApp, and Brazil is one of those who keep battling against its access on its territory.
According to a report in Globo, WhatsApp was blocked by telephone companies through the order of a Brazilian judge. The reason? Facebook, the parent company of the messaging app, apparently declined to offer authorities some chat logs that would have helped them in a criminal investigation.
Since a couple of months ago, all WhatsApp messages benefit from end-to-end encrypted, which means Facebook has no access to its users’ messages. In turn, this prevented the tech company from providing the court with the requested data.
However, it was only some hours later that the Brazil’s Supreme Court lifted the block, on the grounds that the lower court’s decision to ban WhatsApp might have been unreasonable and disproportionate.
Repeated blocks of WhatsApp in different countries
But this is not an isolated incident; it marks the fourth time WhatsApp was blocked in a country due to denied access to messages. It was back in May when the most recent block happened. This is the official statement of a WhatsApp spokesperson:
“In recent months, people from all across Brazil have rejected judicial blocks of services like WhatsApp. 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.”
According to previous judge orders, WhatsApp bans were meant to last as long as 72 hours, but access has always been restored more quickly than that.
During this latest ban, telephone companies in Brazil were ordered to block WhatsApp for an indefinite period, but the Supreme Court’s decision lifted it within a matter of hours.
Upon hearing the news of the lifting of the ban, WhatsApp released another statement: “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.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling suggests it favors an open internet, even if it means having to embrace the encryption that comes with it. That’s good news for Facebook, which wants to include end-to-end encryption around the world.
Image Source: Telegraph.co.uk