A Brazilian court has ordered telecom companies to block access to WhatsApp across the country for 48 hours starting at 02:00 GMT on Thursday.
The decision to restrict WhatsApp comes after an injunction against the messaging service from a third-party, whose name is being withheld by the court.
The fixed penalty is the result of WhatsApp’s failure to respond to two court orders in the country in July and August. It’s unclear why the company hasn’t communicated with the court and why it’s being blocked for a set time.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp has been under fire from Brazilian phone companies, which have tried and failed in the past to get the government to curtail its free VOIP calling service, as it undermines their own offerings.
We’ve contacted WhatsApp to learn more and will update this post when we hear back.
Update: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted his thoughts on the issue on his Facebook page today:
Tonight, a Brazilian judge blocked WhatsApp for more than 100 million people who rely on it in her country.
We are working hard to get this block reversed. Until then, Facebook Messenger is still active and you can use it to communicate instead.
This is a sad day for Brazil. Until today, Brazil has been an ally in creating an open internet. Brazilians have always been among the most passionate in sharing their voice online.
I am stunned that our efforts to protect people’s data would result in such an extreme decision by a single judge to punish every person in Brazil who uses WhatsApp.
We hope the Brazilian courts quickly reverse course. If you’re Brazilian, please make your voice heard and help your government reflect the will of its people.
Update #2: The Sao Paolo high court has ruled that WhatsApp service should be restored after just 12 hours of outage, saying that “in light of constitutional principles, does not seem reasonable that millions of users are affected due to the inertia of the company.”