Now, a new court ruling has ordered that 19.5 million reais ($6.07 million) in Facebook funds be frozen after the social media giant has repeatedly failed to cooperate with Brazilian federal police in a drug-related case, Reuters reports.
The police said the Facebook subsidiary has declined to turn over messages sent and received via WhatsApp by members implicated in an international cocaine smuggling investigation dating back to January.
Without this information, proving the criminal involvement of the individuals captured in recent raids might be difficult or even impossible.
The amount of funds frozen equals the sum of WhatsApp’s accumulated fines for non-compliance in the case.
Since the messaging service has no bank accounts in Brazil, the ruling applies to its parent company, Facebook.
So far Brazilian authorities have not resorted to provisions of the country’s internet law that allows courts to block access to online services in special cases of non-compliance.
Previously WhatsApp was blocked in Brazil on two separate occasions over the last year – once for 12 hours and on another instance for 24. Only the latter shutdown was related to the drug investigation in question.
At present, WhatsApp has over 100 million users in Brazil.