Judging by several past events, the Brazilian government appears to have an issue with the way WhatsApp functions, and it looks like Brazilian authorities can, and already went the extra mile(s) in order to “regulate” the platform. That’s a nice way of putting it, however, as in more recent events a judge in the state of Sergipe ordered the country’s largest five main network operators to block access to WhatsApp for 72 hours, effectively preventing more than 100 million users in the country from using the service.
According to a report from Reuters, Judge Marcel Maia Montalvão from the northeastern state of Sergipe, Brazil, ordered five local carriers to block WhatsApp on Monday, for a period of 72 hours. No specific reasons have been given as to why the service was blocked for three days, but it appears that the decision is tied to an ongoing case in the Sergipe state court, and the reasons for the WhatsApp blackout have not been revealed due to legal secrecy. It should be pointed out that this isn’t the first time the Brazilian government has blocked WhatsApp. The Brazilian court also ordered a 48-hour blockade in December 2015, but the ban was shortly lifted. It’s also interesting to note that Judge Marcel Maia Montalvão also ordered the imprisonment of Diego Dzodan in March - a Facebook executive in Brazil who failed to provide the authorities with WhatsApp user data (that was apparently impossible to obtain) in order to help a criminal investigation. Diego Dzodan has since been freed.
Meanwhile, WhatsApp released a statement in regards to the recent events in Brazil, saying that the company is “disappointed at the decision” of blocking the service for 72 hours considering the fact that WhatsApp has been willing to cooperate with the Brazilian authorities to the best of their abilities. However, while WhatsApp claims that it simply does not have certain information, Brazilian authorities don’t seem to be easily persuaded, and WhatsApp added that the decision “punishes more than 100 million users who depend upon us to communicate themselves, run their business and more, just to force us [to] hand over information that we don’t have”. Local carriers including América Móvil SAB's Claro, Telefonica Brasil SA, TIM Participações SA, Nextel Participações SA, and Oi SA have yet to comment on the situation.