Judge in Brazil blocks WhatsApp messenger application


RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A Brazilian judge on Tuesday ordered the nationwide suspension of the instant messaging application WhatsApp because its parent company, Facebook, would not help a police investigation.

Rio de Janeiro Judge Daniela Barbosa ruled that access to the application should be blocked until the data sought by authorities is made available. The app was suspended at 2 p.m. local time.

In her decision, Barbosa said Facebook had shown “total disrespect for Brazilian laws.” Her decision said Facebook was repeatedly asked to intercept messages sent through the service to help in a criminal investigation in the city of Caxias, outside Rio.

WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum said the company was working to get the app running again.

“It’s shocking that less than two months after Brazilian people and lawmakers loudly rejected blocks of services like WhatsApp, history is repeating itself,” Koum said on his Facebook page.

A political party filed a motion with Brazil’s Supreme Court in the capital of Brasilia seeking an order restoring WhatsApp, and Justice Minister Alexandre de Moraes said he wanted a solution that would prevent decisions like Barbosa’s.

It was at least the third such ruling against WhatsApp this year in Brazil. A judge in the northeastern state of Alagoas blocked the app over a separate investigation in February, and WhatsApp was blocked in Sao Paulo for 12 hours in December by a judge in that region.

Later on Tuesday, the website of Barbosa’s court suddenly went offline. The activist group Anonymous Brasil claimed it knocked out the site as a “protest against WhatsApp being blocked.”