Brazilian authorities ordered ISPs to block WhatsApp today in a dispute over access to encrypted data. The order to block the messaging service for 72 hours has been issued by a judge from the Brazilian state of Sergipe, the ISPs are obliged to comply the order to avoiding face fines.
According to the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo the ban would begin at 2 p.m. local time and will impact more than 100 million Brazilian users.
The Judge Marcel Montalvao was conducting a drug investigation, for this reason, he requested WhatsApp to provide the access to its data.
“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,” a WhatsApp spokesperson told TechCrunch. “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.”
The company refused, arguing it cannot access the chat messages due to the implementation of the end-to-end encryption.
WhatsApp confirmed its position on the case in a message published by its CEO Jan Koum.
“Yet again millions of innocent Brazilians are being punished because a court wants WhatsApp to turn over information we repeatedly said we don’t have. Not only do we encrypt messages end-to-end on WhatsApp to keep people’s information safe and secure, we also don’t keep your chat history on our servers.” explained the CEO Jan Koum. “When you send an end-to-end encrypted message, no one else can read it – not even us. While we are working to get WhatsApp back up and running as soon as possible, we have no intention of compromising the security of our billion users around the world.”
He is the same judge that ordered the arrest of the Facebook’s vice president for Latin America, in March, but its advocates clarified that WhatsApp has its own independent decisions and that Dzodan was not able to force it complying the request.
This is the second time that the WhatsApp service is banned in the country, it already happened in December 2015 when the block was planned for 48 hours and suspended after 12 hours.
How to avoid the ban?
Brazilian users would use VPN services in order to bypass the ban, and it is what is already happening in the country.
(Security Affairs – WhatsApp, Brazil)