Zuckerberg celebrates lifting of Brazilian WhatsApp ban

Suspension overturned by appeals judge after just 24 hours

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has praised the removal of a 72-hour ban on WhatsApp service in Brazil.

An appeals judge in a separate state court lifted the block roughly 24 hours after its instatement at 2pm on Monday.

The news comes as a relief to Brazil's 100 million WhatsApp users, many of whom use the service as a day-to-day business tool in order to circumvent expensive telco prices.

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The initial ban was ordered by Brazilian judge Marcel Maia Montalvo, after the company refused to comply with court-ordered requests for information in a narcotics case.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of parent company Facebook, took to his social network to condemn the ban and celebrate its overturning.

"The idea that everyone in Brazil can be denied the freedom to communicate the way they want is very scary in a democracy," he wrote.

He urged Brazilian WhatsApp users to stand up to blocks on communication services, asking them to attend an anti-blocking event by the Internet Freedom Caucus in Brasilia.

"Brazilians have been leaders in connecting the world and creating an open internet for many years," Zuckerberg said. "If you are Brazilian and you support WhatsApp, I encourage you to make your voice heard."

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"You and your friends can help make sure this never happens again, and I hope you get involved."

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This is not the first time a Brazilian suspension of WhatsApp has been rescinded. Late last year, another 48-hour block in relation to another case was also quashed on appeal.

04/05/2016:Brazil bans WhatsApp for three days over drug case encryption

More than 100 million people in Brazil have been blocked from using WhatsApp, after a judge ordered telcos to cut off access to the app for 72 hours.

The ruling comes in response to the company's lack of co-operation in a narcotics trafficking case.

The government has subpoenaed WhatsApp's parent company, Facebook, but the tech giant claimed it does not have access to the information the government is requesting.

Judge Marcel Maia Montalvo, who delivered the ban, also ordered the detention of Facebook's vice president for Latin America, Diego Dzodan, for the same reason.

Part of the reason behind this is WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption, which means that no one can access users' communications data not even WhatsApp itself.

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According to Dzodan, "the way that information is encrypted from one cell phone to another, there is no information stored that could be handed over to authorities".

Brazil has previously blocked WhatsApp use for similar reasons, ordering a 48-hour ban last December as punishment for failing to carry out court-ordered wire taps on certain accounts.

Shutdown of the service - which is used by 91 per cent of Brazilian mobile users - marks the latest clash between tech companies and national governments over the use of encryption.

The debate continues to rage between companies like Apple, whose primary focus is customers' security, and law enforcement organisations, who are much more worried about national security.

Last month, the stage looked set for a legal clash between Apple and the US government, which wanted Apple to break its own encryption to get information from the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino killers.


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