Court overturns Brazil's WhatsApp blackout

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Court overturns Brazil's WhatsApp blackout

Service resumes.

Facebook's WhatsApp messaging service resumed in Brazil today after an appeals court overturned a suspension and many of the application's 100 million users in the country voiced outrage.

WhatsApp was cut off in Brazil on Monday after a judge in the remote northeastern state of Sergipe ordered Brazil's five main wireless operators to block access to the app for 72 hours. The reason for the order was not made public, and it was the second such freeze in five months.

The suspension was lifted after about 24 hours when an appeals judge yesterday ruled in favour of an injunction by WhatsApp's lawyers, the court said in a statement.

The suspension highlighted growing international tensions between technology companies' privacy concerns and national authorities' efforts to use social media to gain information on possible criminal activities.

The initial ruling was issued by judge Marcel Maia Montalvão, who in March ordered the arrest of Facebook's vice president for Latin America, Diego Dzodan, for failing to comply with a subpoena requesting information on a WhatsApp user in a drug trafficking case.

WhatsApp had said in a statement earlier this week that it was "disappointed" at the judge's decision to suspend its services. It said it had done the utmost to cooperate with Brazilian tribunals, but it did not possess the information the court was requesting.

The company has said in the past that it does not store encrypted information from WhatsApp messages.

Monday's suspension angered many in Brazil, where more than 90 percent of Android devices have WhatsApp installed. Cost-conscious Brazilians are avid users of free messaging apps, and WhatsApp is by far the most popular.

It marks the second time WhatsApp has been blocked in the country this year.

In January a São Paulo judge ordered the country's telcos to suspend the service, targeting parent company Facebook, which refused to release personal data and communications records to Brazilian prosecutors in an organised crime case.

The January WhatsApp blackout was scheduled to last for 48 hours, but was reversed after another judge revoked the original court order.

With Juha Saarinen

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