One of the big perks about using WhatsApp is the fact that the messages are encrypted. Since privacy has become a growing concern, more people are turning to encrypted methods of communication. Unfortunately, that’s also why currently, no one in the country of Brazil can access the service.
Recently, a Judge ordered WhatsApp to hand over message records that were related to an ongoing drug investigation. The company didn’t comply with the order, because due to fact that they encrypt all of their messages, they can’t actually access an individual’s chat history. So to apparently punish the company (and all of its users in the country) a judge ordered that every telecom provider in the country block the service. Any company that did not comply would be fined appropriately.
There are some silver linings to be found here. First, the outage is only set to last 72 hours. Second, another encrypted messaging service, Telegram, has been trending in Brazil. This means that people are already adapting to get around the country’s efforts to cut off encrypted messaging. Finally, despite the ban, the company will not be changing their position, whatsoever. Here is the statement released by CEO and co-founter Jan Koum:
Yet again millions of innocent Brazilians are being punished because a court wants WhatsApp to turn over information we repeatedly said we don’t have. Not only do we encrypt messages end-to-end on WhatsApp to keep people’s information safe and secure, we also don’t keep your chat history on our servers. When you send an end-to-end encrypted message, no one else can read it – not even us. While we are working to get WhatsApp back up and running as soon as possible, we have no intention of compromising the security of our billion users around the world.
As was pointed out in Koum’s statement, this isn’t the first time that Brazil has blocked WhatsApp. Back in December of last year a 48 hour ban was enacted, but was lifted just 12 hours later.