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WhatsApp was forced offline in Brazil yesterday after Facebook failed to provide a court with chat logs related to a criminal investigation - only for the block to be lifted hours later.

The blocking order by Brazilian judge Daniela Barbosa came after Facebook argued that it could not provide the court with the requested data since all messages relayed through the service are end-to-end encrypted.

Barbosa apparently took issue with the nature of the response, accusing Facebook of treating the country like a "banana republic" and criticizing WhatsApp for replying to the court via email and in English, "as if this was the official language of this country." She then ordered the company to pay $50,000 per day until it complied with the court order to release the information.

However, in a matter of hours, the judge's order was struck down by the country's Supreme Court, which ruled that the lower court's order to ban WhatsApp was unreasonable and disproportionate. As TechCrunch notes, the ruling suggests Brazil's highest court favors an open internet, even if that means embracing encryption.

This is the fourth time a judge has ordered that WhatsApp be taken offline in the country, only for access to be reinstated soon after. The last order occurred in May and blocked the messaging service in Brazil for 72 hours, affecting over 100 million people.

"In recent months, people from all across Brazil have rejected judicial blocks of services like WhatsApp," said a WhatsApp spokesperson. "Indiscriminate steps like these threaten people's ability to communicate, to run their businesses, and to live their lives. As we've said in the past, we cannot share information we don't have access to."

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Article Link: Brazilian Supreme Court Upholds WhatsApp Users' Right to Encrypted Chat
 
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miknos

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Mar 14, 2008
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Barbosa apparently took issue with the nature of the response, accusing Facebook of treating the country like a "banana republic"

But Brazil is a Banana Republic.

Same problem as Apple VS FBI. The bureaucrats don't know what encryption is. That brazilian judge wants Facebook to intercept in real-time the contents of the messages. Facebook said is not technically possible. Judge gets upset (damaged ego) and ask telcos to block whatsapp.

What a disgrace.
 

Mr Fusion

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May 7, 2007
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Barbosa apparently took issue with the nature of the response, accusing Facebook of treating the country like a "banana republic" and criticizing WhatsApp for replying to the court via email and in English, "as if this was the official language of this country."​
This is insulting... To all Banana Republics to think Brazil's government could ever come close to being as legitimate and functional as one of those.
 

Porco

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Mar 28, 2005
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I was once shut down for not providing unicorn tears in a jug made of rainbows when asked, and for responding in Klingon. That's the last time I go to a Star Trek convention.

(Another way of saying I'm not sure this Judge understands what end-to-end encryption means)
 

vmistery

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Apr 6, 2010
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Any bets on how long before our new PM here in the UK requests everything be unencrypted or to use reversible encryption?
 

Parasprite

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Barbosa apparently took issue with the nature of the response, accusing Facebook of treating the country like a "banana republic" and criticizing WhatsApp for replying to the court via email and in English, "as if this was the official language of this country." She then ordered the company to pay $50,000 per day until it complied with the court order to release the information.
I'm astonished at how ridiculously unprofessional their reaction was.
 

CFreymarc

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Sep 4, 2009
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This does not surprise me. Brazil earlier this year banned all ride sharing nationwide as it was threatening old money that owned the local taxi cab companies.

I know a few people that regularly attend Olympic games whom are skipping the Rio games. One piece of advise given is if you are American and not connected to the USOC in a working or support manner, don't bother with it.
 

Sasparilla

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Jul 6, 2012
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You know, for all our problems in the US, at least we aren't like Brazil.

Thank goodness we have a right to privacy here in the U.S.: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/11/microsoft-nsa-collaboration-user-data

That said, I had heard in Brazil the text messaging is very overpriced and WhatsApp among other IP based messaging threatens this good old boys profit center - so there may be more than meets the eye at work here. Thank goodness Brazil's court still has some sense.
 
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CFreymarc

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Thank goodness we have a right to privacy here in the U.S.: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/11/microsoft-nsa-collaboration-user-data

That said, I had heard in Brazil the text messaging is very overpriced and WhatsApp among other IP based messaging threatens this good old boys profit center - so there may be more than meets the eye at work here. Thank goodness Brazil's court still has some sense.
You have that right. Text messaging a nearly pure profit for most wireless carriers.
 

Kaibelf

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Thank goodness we have a right to privacy here in the U.S.: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/11/microsoft-nsa-collaboration-user-data

That said, I had heard in Brazil the text messaging is very overpriced and WhatsApp among other IP based messaging threatens this good old boys profit center - so there may be more than meets the eye at work here. Thank goodness Brazil's court still has some sense.

I dunno, I wonder about a court where a judge would say "I don't understand how encryption works, so I'll just throw people in jail because math doesn't change for me." It's bizarre.
 

MacBH928

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May 17, 2008
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How can they block a specific service or app? do they have a specific IP address to them?
 

CFreymarc

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It's really disappointing that a judge can't understand the basic concepts of encryption. Thank goodness the supreme court got it right.
Judge appointments in Brazil and highly political and "old boy network" driven. A judge with mostly experience in a fixed and defined world not knowing current technologies is not surprising.

In many cases, an expert witness needs to come into a courtroom. They the explain technologies in lay terms in order to for a judge or jury to make a decision. I would not be surprised if a local expert witness on encryption was brought in.
 

thisisnotmyname

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Oct 22, 2014
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Judge appointments in Brazil and highly political and "old boy network" driven. A judge with mostly experience in a fixed and defined world not knowing current technologies is not surprising.

In many cases, an expert witness needs to come into a courtroom. They the explain technologies in lay terms in order to for a judge or jury to make a decision. I would not be surprised if a local expert witness on encryption was brought in.

Yeah, legal profession in the US isn't exactly the most technical bunch either (getting better and with notable exceptions but as a whole). I don't know what Brazil's rules of discovery are (I'm just assuming this happened during discovery) but if an expert witness testified and she was still unable to comprehend the inability to comply it just makes me sad for their legal system.
 

macs4nw

macrumors 601
You know, for all our problems in the US, at least we aren't like Brazil.
Apparently crime-wise, we're pretty close :D

On topic, this encryption business is going to keep coming back over and over, globally and here as well, and I fear that sooner or later private communication via encryption will have the dreaded backdoor option. Law enforcement and overzealous legislators the world over are chomping at the bit to get the catastrophic terrorist attack they need to ram this through, after people's resolve to resist such backdoors weakens, to make place for widespread fear.

I sincerely hope I'm wrong on all counts.
 

PBRsg

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Aug 12, 2014
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Any bets on how long before our new PM here in the UK requests everything be unencrypted or to use reversible encryption?

Cameron already made noises a year or two ago about banning all encryption. Apparently, no amount of control over the citizens is ever enough in the UK.
 
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vooke

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Jul 14, 2014
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This is what I said. Back to back encryption is the only way companies can circumvent court orders that infringe privacy!

They can always say, ' we wish to assist but our hands are by mathematics'
 

thermodynamic

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May 3, 2009
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But Brazil is a Banana Republic.

Same problem as Apple VS FBI. The bureaucrats don't know what encryption is. That brazilian judge wants Facebook to intercept in real-time the contents of the messages. Facebook said is not technically possible. Judge gets upset (damaged ego) and ask telcos to block whatsapp.

What a disgrace.

Or they know what it is and the extent to which it can be used. You do know that terrorists tend to be as undercover as possible so they don't get noticed until or after they strike?

Most people have nothing to hide and most of them also increasingly applaud the use of video camera footage...
 
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