The Global Network Initiative is alarmed by yet another order by a Brazilian judge to block the WhatsApp messaging service across the entire country, the fourth such order and the third in the past seven months.
The indefinite nationwide blocking of a messaging service is a disproportionate response to a dispute over a court order, particularly when the dispute concerns the content of communications that the company cannot access because it is encrypted.
“This latest order is beyond reason as it is completely disproportionate for a judge to follow in the footsteps of other blocks that hurt millions of law-abiding people,” said Mark Stephens, CBE, Independent Chair of the GNI Board. “These blocks were decried by judicial and policy experts across the country and were swiftly overturned,” he said.
This judicial overreach denies some 100 million WhatsApp users access to a secure way to contact family members and friends, find employment, run their small businesses and access vital information.
For more on this issue, see the GNI and Telecommunications Industry Dialogue Joint Statement on Network and Service Shutdowns as well as previous GNI statements about Brazil.
Update: Reuters also reports that Brazil’s Supreme Court has suspended the ruling ordering the block.