Facebook-owned messaging platform, WhatsApp, was temporarily shut down across Brazil after failure to comply with requests from the state's judicial system.
As a matter of fact, this isn't the first legal incident that WhatsApp found itself involved in within Brazil. Previous reports have detailed how the messaging platform incurred the same restraints months ago, temporarily halting its messaging services nationwide.
On July 19, the messaging platform found itself in the same boat again after resisting the court's persistent requests to gain unrestricted access to its messaging database. Access to unencrypted message logs would purportedly aid in a current trial in court.
The news follows a broader picture of recent events that saw an ongoing debate transpire between private messaging companies and its role in legal proceedings — much like the highly publicized feud between Apple and the FBI over the San Bernardino shootings.
"It's shocking that less than two months after Brazilian people and lawmakers loudly rejected blocks of services like WhatsApp, history is repeating itself," says WhatsApp co-founder and CEO Jan Koum in a Facebook post. The CEO added that like before — in reference to previous cases witnessed in Brazil — "millions of people are cut off from friends, loved ones, customers and colleagues" again, simply because Facebook is being asked for information it doesn't have.
WhatsApp offers users an encrypted messaging system wherein only the sender and recipients of these messages will be able to access and read the data. No outside entity and, presumably, not even the WhatsApp company itself can gain unencrypted access to these messages.
While the feature is a highly appreciated offer by users of the medium for its security and privacy purposes, the same cannot be said for legal systems as this causes a major drawback in legal proceedings if, for example, the encrypted messaging platform was used as part of committing a crime.
The judge responsible for the block, Judge Daniela Barbosa Assumpção de Souza, said in a court statement that WhatsApp's promises to its consumers should not exempt it from the "laws of the country;" even more so, when it's accessed by more than "100 million Brazilians."
"Especially when that activity leads to large profits, it is not credible that the company's representatives cannot appear before the court in order to comply with judicial decisions," the judge added.
WhatsApp's ban has since then been lifted after a Supreme Court overturned the initial ruling. The messaging platform, however, is still under investigation for "obstruction of justice" and is currently being fined 50,000 reais per day or $15,378 until it finally agrees to comply with the court's wishes.