WhatsApp is/isn't blocked in Brazil

WhatsApp “can’t” give Brazil court drug evidence. Judge Marcel Montalvão doesn’t redeem himself.
[You're fired -Ed.]

WhatsApp blocked in Brazil again, although each time it gets reconnected on appeal. A judge for one small Brazilian state ordered the messaging service blocked for three days across the entire country. Why?

[Developing story. Updated 3:59 pm PT with more comment]

The court is wants WhatsApp to hand over chat logs relating to a drugs probe. But the firm continues to argue Judge Marcel Montalvão is asking for the impossible (because math).

Looks like a case of a power-mad, minor judge, who doesn't understand he can't require the impossible. But he's also empowered from behind his throne by legacy telcos, incensed by "over the top" applications such as WhatsApp disrupting their antiquated business models.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers' hearts were entertaining June, beneath an amber moon. Not to mention: My roommate scares easily

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. With still a million things to say.

What’s the craic? Calling the news "stunning", Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman report WhatsApp, Used by 100 Million Brazilians, Was Shut Down Nationwide:

A Brazilian state judge ordered mobile phone operators to block [the] WhatsApp chat service for 72 hours. ... People in Brazil who tried to use the service could not...send or receive...messages.

WhatsApp is the most-used app in Brazil. ... It is now owned by Facebook, the country’s second-most used app. ... This ruling comes from the same judge...who two months ago ordered Facebook’s...Diego Dzodan to be detained over WhatsApp’s failure to cooperate...as part of a criminal investigation. ... An appellate court overturned the order.

This is not the first time. ... Last December...a lower court judge...ordered service providers to block the app. ... An appeals court overturned the ruling...invoking “constitutional principles.”

In many ways, Brazil...is a key battleground in the global struggle for internet freedom. ... A new cybercrime bill...could codify internet-shutdown powers of [this] type.

But, as Gilmore famously said, the Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it, right? Kate Conger joins the snaking line of reportage—Brazil orders cell phone carriers to block WhatsApp:

WhatsApp, [the] messaging service that recently rolled out end-to-end encryption...will be blocked in Brazil. ... Judge Marcel Montalvao has ordered WhatsApp to turn over chat records...but WhatsApp has argued that it cannot.

Hotspot Shield, a popular VPN service [said] it saw installations spike in Brazil. [It] saw 82,000 new installations of its VPN in Brazil during the first hour of the block.

Who's happy about it? WhatsApp honcho Jan Koum is not:

Yet again millions of innocent Brazilians are being punished. ... Not only do we encrypt messages end-to-end...we also don't keep your chat history. ... No one else can read it – not even us. ... We have no intention of compromising the security of our billion users.

My my. Mike Masnick mithers—Once Again All Of Whatsapp Is Being Blocked In Brazil Because A Judge Is Upset:

Phone companies that don't block Whatsapp will be fined about $143,000 per day. ... Brazilian judges are apparently not very big fans of...Whatsapp.

Considering just how widely the app is used there...the impact is pretty massive. [It] is a ridiculous move...but is also a sign of what's to come [elsewhere].

"Brazil is not for amateurs." So says Falcon_Dark:

A judge without any technical advice gives an impossible-to-accomplish order. Then suspends a service for the whole country, even when the population of his jurisdiction is just 1% of...Brazil. ... The police found no meaningful evidence -- that’s why justice is so desperate to get some info from the suspects' smartphones.

The president is falling down. Over 60% of the representatives and senators are under investigation for corruption. Chikungunya, Zika and Dengue fever are on the rise. Late on preparations for the Olympic Games. And [now this]. Banana Land is having a hard time in 2016.

Comment of the day? That must go to Kimmo:

****ing technologically illiterate ***wits in positions of power need to **** the **** off.

Update: Aaand the judge's decision has been overturned again. Angelica Mari asks, Now what?

WhatsApp is up and running again. ... Facebook appealed the decision and the service was reestablished...after a ban [of] over 24 hours.

The suspension...was heavily criticized. ... Even the country's telecommunications regulator [said] the ban was a step too far.

Brazilian authorities need to think long and hard. ... Should we be shooting the messenger? ... Brazilian authorities must realize...the legal arguments...are something from the past.

The reality is that we need a trans-national...global bill of online rights. ... We are in a new age of information.

And Finally…

Hilarious: My roommate scares really easily
[includes many F-bombs and other NSFW language]

You have been reading IT Blogwatch by Richi Jennings, who curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites… so you don’t have to. Catch the key commentary from around the Web every morning. Hatemail may be directed to @RiCHi or itbw@richi.uk.
Opinions expressed may not represent those of Computerworld. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon