Brazil saw the third blocking of Facebook-owned chat platform WhatsApp in eight months on Tuesday, but the ban was overturned in a few hours. However, millions of people are said to have suffered an outage in the interim. This was the third such ban WhatsApp faced in the country in a span of just eight months.
The most recent ban stemmed from a ruling by Rio de Janeiro judge Daniela Barbosa, and in connection with a probe into a crime committed in the city of Caxias, which is near Rio. Apparently, authorities had asked Facebook to intercept messages -- text, multimedia and voice -- sent through WhatsApp in an effort to aid the investigation.
As Facebook did not do this, the judge ruled that the social networking platform had exhibited "total disrespect for Brazilian laws," and ordered that WhatsApp be blocked in the country with immediate effect, according to a report in the Guardian.
However, the order was soon overruled by the Supreme Court, but not before millions had suffered the outage, unable to send messages. Supreme Court President Ricardo Lewandowski, while un-banning WhatsApp in the country, said the imposition of the ban did not seem "reasonable or proportional" to what Facebook had done, or in this case, not done.
Some time during the third temporary ban on WhatsApp in Brazil, the app service's CEO Jan Koum wrote on his official Facebook page: "We're working to get WhatsApp back online in Brazil. It's shocking that less than two months after Brazilian people and lawmakers loudly rejected blocks of services like WhatsApp, history is repeating itself."
Highlighting the problems users of the app were facing, he wrote: "As before, millions of people are cut off from friends, loved ones, customers, and colleagues today, simply because we are being asked for information we don't have."