Much like when your parents took away your cell phone to punish you for arriving home late after curfew, Brazil had its “phone privileges” revoked last night. And much like it was actually all Marsha’s fault you got home late because she dragged you to a party you didn’t even want to attend and then was busy flirting with Freddie all night, Brazilians were caught in the crossfire of a feud they’re weren’t even participating in.
Let me explain:
WhatsApp was suspended in all of Brazil last night following a court order requiring local phone companies to block the messaging app. This happened because WhatsApp refused to provide information in a criminal investigation. The suspension went into effect at midnight and was supposed to remain in effect for 48 hours, but a judge lifted the ban this afternoon after deeming it “unreasonable” that millions of users be affected by a single company’s actions.
As a digital law lawyer told The Guardian, WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, risked being condemned in the US under the country’s privacy laws if it released the information the Brazilian court demanded. Basically the company found itself between a rock and a hard place.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg expressed his dismay over the whole thing on Facebook:
Now that WhatsApp has been restored in the country, the whole sorry affair is behind us, but the specter of a judicial decision infringing on citizens’ ability to communicate continues to loom over Brazil.
There are an estimated 93 million WhatsApp users in Brazil, where the messaging app is the most widely used communication platform.