samazgorA Brazilian judge has ordered (Google Translate) that all mobile phone providers in the country block WhatsApp traffic for 72 hours, beginning yesterday.
However, Brazilians are discovering that the ban only covers mobile carriers—so Brazilians still can use WhatsApp over Wi-Fi or a VPN connection over their mobile data plan.
@cfarivar @WhatsApp @astepanovich VPNs work.
It’s IP block.
A funny extra: the judge only ordered this to mobile operators.
ADSL Wifi is OK
— Javier Pallero (@javierpallero) May 3, 2016
Saiba como furar o bloqueio do WhatsApp e utilizar o aplicativo por uma rede VPN https://t.co/8TeapTSgTv pic.twitter.com/vX0bUTOYDa
— Jornal de Brasília (@OficialJBr) May 3, 2016
Today using VPN tunnel on #WhatsApp #Brasil.
Decision to block whole country absurd for catching little drug thieves…
— Colasso (@colashni) May 3, 2016
Judge Marcel Maia Montalvão issued the order Monday while working on an ongoing drug case that remains under seal.
This was the same judge who ordered that Facebook executive Diego Dzodan should be arrested in March after “repeated non-compliance with court orders.” Dzodan was released soon after.
Dzodan was ordered to provide decrypted messages—however, neither WhatsApp nor its parent company Facebook has the ability to do so as they are end-to-end encrypted.
In April, WhatsApp expanded its end-to-end encryption across all platforms.
The judicial order comes as authorities in Brazil, the United States, and many other countries are grappling with the deployment of easy-to-use default encryption on many platforms, apps, and devices.
Dzodan’s arrest came after Brazilian courts last month increased fines (Portuguese) to 250,000 reis per day for not complying with the government’s data handover order. When Facebook would still not budge, Dzodan was arrested. Now, the court has imposed a fine of 500,000 reis ($140,000) per day to the telcos if they do not comply. Previously, a different Brazilian judge blocked WhatsApp for 12 hours nationwide in December 2015.
Facebook did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.
“This decision punishes more than 100 million Brazilians who rely on our services,” a WhatsApp spokesman told The New York Times, adding that the company had cooperated to the “full extent of our ability with local courts.”