Brazilian Supreme Court Upholds WhatsApp Users' Right to Encrypted Chat

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whatsappWhatsApp was forced offline in Brazil yesterday after Facebook failed to provide a court with chat logs related to a criminal investigation – only for the block to be lifted hours later.

The blocking order by Brazilian judge Daniela Barbosa came after Facebook argued that it could not provide the court with the requested data since all messages relayed through the service are end-to-end encrypted.

Barbosa apparently took issue with the nature of the response, accusing Facebook of treating the country like a "banana republic" and criticizing WhatsApp for replying to the court via email and in English, "as if this was the official language of this country." She then ordered the company to pay $50,000 per day until it complied with the court order to release the information.

However, in a matter of hours, the judge's order was struck down by the country's Supreme Court, which ruled that the lower court's order to ban WhatsApp was unreasonable and disproportionate. As TechCrunch notes, the ruling suggests Brazil's highest court favors an open internet, even if that means embracing encryption.

This is the fourth time a judge has ordered that WhatsApp be taken offline in the country, only for access to be reinstated soon after. The last order occurred in May and blocked the messaging service in Brazil for 72 hours, affecting over 100 million people.

"In recent months, people from all across Brazil have rejected judicial blocks of services like WhatsApp," said a WhatsApp spokesperson. "Indiscriminate steps like these threaten people's ability to communicate, to run their businesses, and to live their lives. As we've said in the past, we cannot share information we don't have access to."

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Top Rated Comments

Porco Avatar
59 months ago
I was once shut down for not providing unicorn tears in a jug made of rainbows when asked, and for responding in Klingon. That's the last time I go to a Star Trek convention.

(Another way of saying I'm not sure this Judge understands what end-to-end encryption means)
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SBlue1 Avatar
59 months ago
Sue a judge? Lol.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
miknos Avatar
59 months ago

Barbosa apparently took issue with the nature of the response, accusing Facebook of treating the country like a "banana republic"

But Brazil is a Banana Republic.

Same problem as Apple VS FBI. The bureaucrats don't know what encryption is. That brazilian judge wants Facebook to intercept in real-time the contents of the messages. Facebook said is not technically possible. Judge gets upset (damaged ego) and ask telcos to block whatsapp.

What a disgrace.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mr Fusion Avatar
59 months ago

Barbosa apparently took issue with the nature of the response, accusing Facebook of treating the country like a "banana republic" and criticizing WhatsApp for replying to the court via email and in English, "as if this was the official language of this country."

This is insulting... To all Banana Republics to think Brazil's government could ever come close to being as legitimate and functional as one of those.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ArtOfWarfare Avatar
59 months ago
Can WhatsApp sue the judge? Might send the message to all of the countries judges to knock it off.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CFreymarc Avatar
59 months ago
This does not surprise me. Brazil earlier this year banned all ride sharing nationwide as it was threatening old money that owned the local taxi cab companies.

I know a few people that regularly attend Olympic games whom are skipping the Rio games. One piece of advise given is if you are American and not connected to the USOC in a working or support manner, don't bother with it.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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