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Brazil Pulls the Plug on WhatsApp for 48 Hours

Logo of WhatsApp, the popular messaging service bought by Facebook for USD $19 billion, seen on a smartphone.Photograph by Stan Honda—AFP/Getty Images

Brazil has pulled the plug on one of the country’s most popular apps.

Starting Thursday at midnight, according to several reports, Brazil will place a 48-hour block on WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging service that has more than 90 million users in the country, where the total population is slightly above 200 million.

A Sao Paolo court ordered the block, claiming that WhatsApp did not cooperate in a criminal investigation. The details of that investigation are under seal, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In a post on Facebook (FB), Mark Zuckerberg criticized the Brazilian government’s decision, writing: “This is a sad day for Brazil. Until today, Brazil has been an ally in creating an open internet. Brazilians have always been among the most passionate in sharing their voice online.” He also hinted at what the investigation might concern. “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.”

This isn’t the first time that Brazilian courts have considered blocking WhatsApp—but it is the first time they’ve actually done it. Brazilian telecommunications companies have long complained that the free app, which allows users to talk using the Internet, undermines their business.