WhatsApp, Facebook’s messaging service that recently rolled out end-to-end encryption to its users, will be blocked in Brazil for 72 hours, starting this afternoon.
A Brazilian judge ordered telecom providers in the country to block WhatsApp today in a dispute over access to encrypted data. Judge Marcel Montalvao has ordered WhatsApp to turn over chat records related to a drug investigation, but WhatsApp has argued that it cannot access the chats in an unencrypted form and therefore cannot provide the required records to the court.
Local newspaper Folha de S.Paulo reported that the ban would begin at 2 p.m. local time and that phone companies in the country would face fines if they did not comply.
This isn’t Montalvao’s first clash with WhatsApp, which boasts more than 100 million Brazilian users. The judge ordered the arrest of Facebook’s vice president for Latin America, Diego Dzodan, in March. Facebook has said that WhatsApp operates with relative independence and that Dzodan has no control over WhatsApp data.
Brazil also cut off access to WhatsApp in the country last December. Although the block was ordered to last for 48 hours, it was lifted after just 12 hours.
Spokesmen for WhatsApp and Facebook did not immediately return requests for comment about today’s court order.