The 100 million-odd people in Brazil who rely on WhatsApp for all their communication will not be able to access the service for at least 72 hours. According to Brazil’s largest newspaper, a state judge named Marcel Maia Montalvão, ordered the block because of the Facebook-owned company’s refusal to roll over like a puppy and hand over private user data to the government.

This isn’t the first time this is happening, too. Late last year, a Judge shut down WhatsApp for around 12 hours after extensive lobbying by local telcos. Users in Brazil have stopped using SMS entirely, and do most of their communication via WhatsApp, so one can only imagine the (economic) impact on the millions of people affected.


So, it’s a double whammy. There’s the fact that governments in developing countries are obsessed with playing big brother with their citizens (not surprisingly, including the one we have here in Nigeria) and on the other hand, OTT (Over-The-Top) services like WhatsApp have presented a threat to the gargantuan profits local telcos used to…inhale. A16z partner, Benedict Evans paints a clearer picture:

While telcos in Brazil are responding by getting the government to block access, our Nigerian friends briefly considered asking Facebook and Google to pay them for access to the Nigerian consumers who use their service. Brilliant, LOL. Goodluck with that.

The last WhatsApp ban was cut short in righteousness because it “does not seem reasonable that millions of users are affected due to the inertia of the company”.

really? I'd never have guessed.

really? I’d never have guessed.

Let’s hope this time, someone in the Brazilian government receives such a profound revelation, and they don’t end up screwing people’s businesses up for up to 72 hours. Let’s hope.

This saga looks more interesting when you realise that WhatsApp cannot even grant the government the information it is looking for in the first place. Here’s your bit of trivia for the day: they recently enabled end-to-end encryption for all their messages – text, image and video – and you cannot give what you do not have.

This gon’ be good.

[separator type=”thin”]

Update 4-May-2016: Verge reports that the court order to block WhatsApp has been overturned. And no, it’s not because WhatsApp has somehow rolled over for the Brazilian government. Founder, Jan Klum said “we have no intention of compromising the security of our billion users around the world.” I also read that users were beginning to take their conversations to Telegram – effectively switching one encrypted messaging app for another.

Read this next
More From TC
Business, Developers, Entrepreneurship, Funding
17th September 2019

Andela, the Africa-focused tech accelerator, is laying off more than 400 employees across three countries as the company changes its business model away from developer training. The company told TechCabal it is laying off 250 junior developers from Nigeria and Uganda and about 170 others in Kenya. CEO Jeremy Johnson said the company will now […]

FBI announces arrest of 167 alleged fraudsters in Nigeria in anti-fraud operation
Business, ecosystem, FinTech, Government, Internet, Mobile, News, Policy, Technology
11th September 2019

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has arrested 281 individuals, including 167 in Nigeria, for their involvement in fraudulent business email compromise (BEC) schemes, the agency announced recently. Working with over 12 agencies across multiple countries, the FBI disclosed that the latest arrests are part of Operation reWired, a four-month international operation “designed to intercept […]

TechCabal is a Big Cabal Media brand

Copyright © 2019
All rights reserved

Privacy & Terms