Brasilia, May 4 (IANS) The suspension of WhatsApp in Brazil was scrapped, hours after an appellate court upheld a 72-hour nationwide shutdown of the messaging service.
Sergipe State Court magistrate Ricardo Mucio Santana de Abreu Lima on Tuesday overturned the initial decision, made by Marcel Maia Montalvao, a criminal court judge in Lagarto, Sergipe.
Brazil’s five mobile operators – TIM, Oi, Vivo, Claro and Nextel – began blocking WhatsApp at 2.00 p.m. on Monday, a move affecting some 100 million Brazilian users of the service, EFE news reported.
Montalvao ordered the shutdown in response to a motion from the Federal Police, who are seeking to force social media giant Facebook that owns WhatsApp to comply with previous court orders requiring the company to reveal the content of texts sent via WhatsApp by the defendants in a drug case.
Earlier on Tuesday, appellate magistrate Cezario Siqueira Neto agreed with Montalvao that WhatsApp should be able to recover the texts and he criticised Facebook for failing to dispatch technicians to discuss the matter with authorities.
Technology experts have suggested Facebook is unable to comply with the Brazilian demands because WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption technology that makes it impossible for the company to monitor messages travelling across its network.
Last December, a judge in Sao Paulo mandated a 48-hour nationwide shutdown of WhatsApp in another case involving a demand for information in a criminal probe. Within 12 hours, another magistrate lifted the ban, calling it “unreasonable” to punish the service’s “millions of users”.
Brazil’s telecom regulator, Anatel, called the latest shutdown of WhatsApp disproportionate, but said it was powerless to intervene.
WhatsApp said on Tuesday that it has cooperated with the Brazilian courts to the fullest extent of its capacity.