Brazilian Judge Orders WhatsApp Blocked for 72 Hours

Image: WhatsApp
A screen shot of the popular WhatsApp smartphone application. AFP / Getty Images

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By Emmanuelle Saliba, Euronews

A judge in Brazil has once again ordered a temporary block on the popular messaging app WhatsApp in response to the company’s refusal to turn over data in a criminal investigation.

According to Brazilian publication Folha de S.Paulo, Judge Marcel Montalvo has ordered companies to block the service for 72 hours starting Monday afternoon. If Brazilian phone companies do not cut off the service, they could face a fine of $143,000 (500,000 reais) a day.

Read More: Zuckerberg 'Stunned' After WhatsApp Blocked in Brazil

WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, said it was disappointed with the judge’s ruling.

“This decision punishes more than 100 million Brazilians who rely on our service to communicate, run their businesses, and more, in order to force us to turn over information we repeatedly said we don't have,” said a spokesperson for WhatsApp.

This isn’t the first time Brazilian authorities have blocked the service. In December, a judge ordered WhatsApp be blocked for 48 hours after it refused to comply with a court order.

Read More: As Tech Companies Look to Privacy, WhatsApp May Encrypt Its Call

In its absence, some people seem to have turned to other popular messaging services. One alternative, Telegram, said there have been delays sending verification codes to new users “due to overload,” but that it’s working to fix the problem.