Brazil Blocks WhatsApp for Next 72 Hours Because Facebook Won’t Release Account Information

By Andrew Simontacchi
Andrew Simontacchi
Andrew Simontacchi
May 2, 2016 Updated: May 2, 2016

Brazilian WhatsApp users have been blocked from the app for 72 hours, according to Brazilian publication Folha De S.Paulo.

Local media is reporting that a judge ordered the app to be blocked for the same reason as its first lockout—in response to Facebook’s refusal to comply with federal investigators in ongoing criminal cases. The case began in November 2015 when Judge Marcel Maia Montalvão asked WhatsApp’s owner, Facebook, to release information on accounts of suspected drug dealers who were using the messaging system to communicate. 

Facebook refused to comply and WhatsApp was blocked in Brazil for 12 hours in December 2015.

In March, the same judge ordered Latin America Facebook vice president, Diego Dzodan, to be detained—but another judge ordered Dzodan’s release after one night. 

The current block began at 2 p.m. on Monday and the five telephone operators (TIM, Oi, Vivo, Claro, and Nextel) in Brazil already agreed to block WhatsApp for 72 hours. The daily fine for ignoring the judicial order is $500,000 reais ($143,360).

Facebook already prohibits its social media from being used for drugs and arms dealing, and the company extended this policy to its Instagram service, but these measures don’t yet apply to WhatsApp.

WhatsApp is an instant-messaging platform for smartphones. It was founded by former Yahoo employees in 2009 and was bought by Facebook in February of 2014 for $19.3 billion.

As of February 2016, the app has a user base of one billion people; making it the world’s most popular messaging app.

Andrew Simontacchi
Andrew Simontacchi