On Monday, a Brazilian Judge ordered wireless phone carriers to block access to the hugely popular messaging service WhatsApp for 72 hours throughout Brazil which has more than 100 million users in the country.
Though the reason for the order is not known due to legal secrecy in an ongoing case in the Sergipe state court, the decision by the judge in the north-eastern state of Sergipe applies to the five main wireless operators in Brazil and affects WhatsApp.
Reports however say Judge Marcel Montalvao, issued the order because WhatsApp owner Facebook failed to hand over information requested in a criminal investigation.
Judge Marcel Maia Montalvão of Sergipe state is the same judge who in March ordered the imprisonment of a Brazil-based Facebook executive for failing to comply with an attempted block of WhatsApp. He was jailed and subsequently freed.
The five Brazilian wireless operators affected by the Judge’s order are; Telefonica Brasil SA, América Móvil SAB’s Claro, TIM Participações SA, Oi SA and Nextel Participações SA.
WhatsApp, in a statement said the company was “disappointed at the decision” after doing the utmost to cooperate with Brazilian tribunals.
According to the company, 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,” it said in a statement, without elaborating further.
This would make it the second of such move against the popular messaging application in five months. In mid- December, a São Paulo state judge ordered the service to be shut down for 48 hours on 15 December, after Facebook failed to comply with an order, although another court interrupted that suspension shortly afterward.