Brazil's chief justice ordered restoration of WhatsApp services in the country after a court imposed a nationwide blackout on the mobile messaging service. This was the third time in eight months that the app was blocked following the Facebook-owned company's refusal to allow the government access to users' chats in relation to a criminal investigation.
On 19 July, Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski ordered that the indefinite suspension be lifted, a few hours after a local judge in the district of Caxias do Sul passed the ban. He explained that by blocking WhatsApp, the government was violating freedom of speech and communication.
The suspension which lasted a couple of hours, would have been an added problem to the country's long list, as it battles political corruption, the Zika epidemic, increase in crime and recession, issues that have threatened the success of the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio.
Prior to Lewandowski's ruling, WhatsApp had expressed its concerns over the numerous blackouts of its service which is very popular in the country. "We hope to see this blockade lifted as soon as possible," the company said in an e-mail. "Indiscriminate acts like this one threaten people's ability to communicate, manage their business and live their lives. As we said before, we can't share information to which we don't have access."
The blockade of the service was targeted not directly at WhatsApp but also at the country's five wireless carriers which were ordered by the court not to allow any data from the app, and failure to do so could lead to a daily fine of 50,000 real ($15,375/£11,731).
WhatsApp had earlier explained that they were unable to give the government the information asked for since they did not have records of users' personal communications following implementation of end-to-end encryption in April 2016.