WhatsApp gets another Brazilian whack as magistrate blocks it again

National shut-down starts Tuesday, just in time for the Olympics


Update The standoff between Brazil's legal system and Facebook's WhatsApp messaging platform continues, after a Rio de Janeiro judge ordered all carriers to block the app as of next Tuesday.

WhatsApp claims 100 million users in the country.

While judge Daniela Barbosa has declined to publish her reasons in full, she says the order will only be lifted when the courts get access to user messages.

That suggests the confidential case is another of the organised crime probes that have plagued WhatsApp in Brazil since last year. Brazilian investigators want user messages; WhatsApp says it can't hand them over because they're encrypted when it transports them, aren't stored and therefore cannot be produced.

The latest order covers Telefonica Brasil, Claro (owned by América Móvil), TIM, Oi, and Nextel. Each of them would face daily fines of 50,000 Brazilian Reals (US$15,375) for non-compliance.

Hoping to fend off Judge Barbosa's decision, local outlet O Globo reports (in Portuguese here) that WhatsApp has requested an injunction against its enforcement. The injunction is being considered.

Repeated decisions by the country's judiciary blocking the app have also frustrated the office of Brazil's attorney-general, which says the decisions misinterpret the country's 2014 Internet law, Brazilian Civil Rights Framework for the Internet.

The ongoing disagreement between investigators and WhatsApp have already seen blocks imposed in December 2015 and May 2016, and the arrest of a local Facebook executive in March. ®

Updated to add

The Supreme Court preliminarily suspended the blocking decision of the WhatsApp application. President Ricardo Lewandowski ordered the restoration of the messaging service yesterday afternoon.

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