A court in Brazil has order the country's telecommunication companies to block WhatsApp for 48 hours after the company owned by Facebook failed to comply in a criminal case, details of which were not disclosed. The messaging app was to go offline starting midnight of 17 December local time.
"Because WhatsApp did not respond to a court order of July 23, 2015, on August 7, 2015, the company was again notified, with there being a fixed penalty in case of non-compliance. As yet the company did not attend the court order, the prosecution requested the blocking of services for a period of 48 hours, based on the law [...], which was granted by Judge Sandra Regina Nostre Marques," the court said in a statement.
The court order came months after Brazilian telecommunication companies began a push urging the government to limit the use of WhatsApp's voice service, which has soared in popularity. According to Techtudo.com, WhatsApp is used by 93% of the country's internet population.
"We are disappointed in the short-sighted decision to cut off access to WhatsApp, a communication tool that so many Brazilians have come to depend on, and sad to see Brazil isolate itself from the rest of the world," said Jan Koum, chief executive of WhatsApp, in a statement Facebook post.
Blocking WhatsApp "is not the solution as it is disproportionate and affect millions of users," John Rao, head of Brazil's National Telecommunications Agency, said.
According to 24-hour Band News TV network, the case that brought the court injunction involves a drug trafficker who used WhatsApp services to carry out allegedly criminal activities. The news channel said the trafficker is from the First Command of the Capital, one of Sao Paulo's biggest and most dangerous criminal gangs.
Messaging service Telegram, in a tweet, said more than 1.5 million people had signed up for its service after the court ordered WhatsApp to remain offline for 48 hours.
WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook for $19 billion last year. Back in September, WhatsApp claimed a user base of over 900 million globally.