The Global Network Initiative is concerned about a Brazilian court’s decision to institute a nation-wide blocking of the WhatsApp messaging service on December 17.

Social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube and Twitter are extremely popular in Brazil, which is estimated to have more than 100 million social media users, more than 90 million of whom use WhatsApp.

While we are pleased to see that the block has been lifted for now, any block that prevents users from accessing the Internet and using social media, even temporarily, inhibits the ability of people – especially poorer citizens – to connect with family members and access important information.

The GNI urges the Brazilian government to adhere to international human rights standards on free expression and privacy and to refrain from blocking access to communications platforms. Information and communications technology companies have an obligation to comply with lawful government demands. However, any restrictions on free expression should meet the thresholds of legality, necessity, and proportionality, as set out in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights.