The day after a Brazilian judge ordered the suspension of the Whatsapp cell-phone chat and voice service for 48 hours, cutting off millions of users from one of the country’s most popular communication services, another judge overturned the ban.
Brazilians had joined in black humor and outrage and tech giants expressed worry over the state's heavy hand Thursday after a judge banned the service for 48 hours. It is so widely used in Brazil that people often ask for your WhatsApp rather than your number. The ban began at midnight Wednesday.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who had described this as a “sad day for Brazil,” celebrated the decision. “Your voices have been heard and the block has been lifted,” he posted on Facebook. The social media company bought WhatsApp in 2014 for $22 billion, and Zuckerberg said the application had 100 million users in Brazil.
The ban was first imposed by Judge Sandra Marques in Sao Bernardo do Campo in Sao Paulo because the company had not complied with an order to provide information for a criminal investigation, which is secret. The company had failed to respond to two notifications in July and August and prosecutors requested the ban in retaliation.
But on Thursday, Xaxier de Souza, a judge at a higher court, overruled the decision. “It has not been shown reasonable that millions of users should be affected as a result of the company’s inertia,” he said.
The Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper site reported that the ban was imposed because WhatsApp had failed to provide messages swapped by criminal gangs.
The company said it didn't have the information that was being sought. “We’re disappointed that a judge would punish more than 100 million people across Brazil since we were unable to turn over information we didn’t have,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said.