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Brazil Judge Tells Phone Carriers To Block WhatsApp

May 2, 2016, 5:33 PM UTC
Jan Koum Announced WhatsApp Will be Free
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - JANUARY 18: A man holds a smartphone on January 18, 2015 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. At a conference in Munich, Germany the founder of WhatsApp, Jan Koum, confirmed that the most popular messages service in the world will definitely become free. (Photo by William Volcov/Brazil Photo Press/LatinContent/Getty Images)
William Volcov—Brazil Photo Press/CON LatinContent via Getty Images

A Brazilian judge ordered wireless phone carriers to block access to Facebook’s WhatsApp for 72 hours throughout Latin America’s largest country starting Monday afternoon, the second such incident against the popular messaging application in five months.

The decision by the judge in the northeastern state of Sergipe applies to the five main wireless operators in Brazil. The reason for the order is not known due to legal secrecy in an ongoing case in the Sergipe state court.

Representatives at Facebook in Sao Paulo could not immediately be reached for comment, nor could executives at the five carriers – Telefonica Brasil, América Móvil SAB’s Claro, TIM Participações, Oi, and Nextel Participações.

Judge Marcel Maia Montalvão is the same judge who in March ordered the imprisonment of a Facebook executive based in Brazil for failing to comply with an attempted block on WhatsApp. He was jailed and subsequently freed.

This is the second time since mid-December that the ubiquitous text message and Internet voice telephone service for smartphones has been target of a blocking order.

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A judge in the state of São Paulo ordered that the service be shut down for 48 hours after Facebook (FB)failed to comply with an order, although another court shortly after interrupted that suspension.