Once again, popular messaging service WhatsApp is being blocked in Brazil as the result of a judicial order. (Update: And now, after a reversal, it’s back up; see updates below.)
It’s the third time in the past year that the service has been ordered offline by a judge for failing to turn over user information. Extremely popular, WhatsApp counts more than 100 million customers in Brazil.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp lashed out at the move, saying it is being asked by a court to provide information that it doesn’t have access to, thanks to the end-to-end encryption it uses to protect customer privacy.
“In recent months, people from all across Brazil have rejected judicial blocks of services like WhatsApp. Indiscriminate steps like these threaten people's ability to communicate, to run their businesses, and to live their lives,” the company said in a statement. “As we've said in the past, we cannot share information we don't have access to. We hope to see this block lifted as soon as possible.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg criticized such moves in December. “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,” he wrote at the time.
The court-imposed bans have typically been short-lived though highly disruptive affairs. The December ban, for example, was lifted two days later.
Update, 2:15 pm PT: WhatsApp is back up nationwide following an order from Brazil’s Supreme Court.
3:49 pm PT: And What’s app is pleased as punch.
“The Supreme Court swiftly rejected today's block, finding that it was disproportionate and violated people's fundamental freedom of expression,” the company told Recode in a statement. “In his decision, the chief justice stressed how people from across Brazil, including members of the judiciary, rely on WhatsApp to communicate with others every day, and that they bear the greatest burden when a service is blocked. We hope that this puts an end to blocks that have punished millions of Brazilians and that people can continue using services like WhatsApp to stay in touch with those who matter to them.”
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.