This isn’t the first time WhatsApp, which Facebook bought in 2014 for $19 billion, has clashed with authorities in Brazil. In December, a judge ordered the shutdown of WhatsApp from the country for two days after not complying with a criminal investigation, but the ruling was overturned the next day. In March, a Facebook executive was jailed for not turning over information from a WhatsApp account linked to a drug trafficking investigation. He was released the next day.
WhatsApp encrypts user data, so it’s unclear if the service would be able to provide the messages anyway. The company said it doesn’t have the information the court is asking for.
“After cooperating to the full extent of our ability with the local courts, we are disappointed a judge in Sergipe decided yet again to order the block of WhatsApp in Brazil,” a WhatsApp spokesman said in a statement. “This decision punishes more than 100 million Brazilians who rely on our service to communicate, run their businesses, and more, in order to force us to turn over information we repeatedly said we don’t have.”