Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

WhatsApp Ordered Blocked Again in Brazil Over Data Dispute

  • Access to messaging app cut off for 72 hours starting Monday
  • WhatsApp says it doesn't have the data that is being requested

Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp messaging service was ordered blocked in Brazil for the second time in less than six months for failing to turn over data in a criminal investigation.

Judge Marcel Montalvao, from the northeastern state of Sergipe, told phone companies to block WhatsApp for 72 hours, according to a statement posted on the court’s website Monday.

“After cooperating to the full extent of our ability with the local courts, we are disappointed a judge in Sergipe decided yet again to order the block of WhatsApp in Brazil,” WhatsApp said in a statement. “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.” 

Folha, which had reported the decision earlier, said the fine for not cutting off the service would be 500,000 reais ($143,000) a day. SindiTelebrasil, the country’s phone-company association, said the companies would comply with the ruling. Phone operators in Brazil include Oi SA, Telefonica Brasil SA, Tim Participacoes SA, Claro SA and Nextel.

In December, a judge in Sao Paulo ordered WhatsApp be blocked for 48 hours after it refused to comply with a court order, affecting its more than 100 million local users and eliciting outrage on social media. The block was lifted in about 12 hours. In March, federal police detained a Facebook executive for failing to cooperate with judicial orders related to information on the company’s website in an investigation of drug trafficking.

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