Brazil judge orders WhatsApp blocked for 72 hours, affecting 100 million people

I think they’re expecting the people who are inconvenienced to switch to a means of communication that is easier for them to monitor, and to cost WhatsApp a bunch of money in lost revenue.

Considering that they’re pissing off the people who report the news to the public, this might backfire spectacularly. Perhaps in the form of a bunch of editorials urging people to use WhatsApp.

1 Like

Hmmmm fair enough. I sense it is indeed going to be a backfire then, but I suppose we will see. Heh.

1 Like

While I maintain my stance against too-big-to-fail communications companies, I am completely willing to accept that this ruling may be stupid as hell.

1 Like

Now Brazilians will look up from their phones and fix their collective gaze on their government.

1 Like

Looks like it is up again!
…I’m not sure that the government there understands how much distaste these moves create
Nor the sillyness of announcing multi-day shutdowns that only last for 1/4 the time


I’m not entirely clear on your stance–the gubmint will happily carry a properly addressed/stamped envelope, and speaking face-to-face is free. What do you mean by too-big-to-fail?

My stance is that when 100M are relying on a particular app to communicate with one another you’ve got a problem waiting to happen regardless of whether a judge makes an overreaching ruling. I can see separate issues here:

  1. Whether the government is overreaching in its attempted digging into personal information
  2. Whether the judge was just being stupid (i.e., demanding information the company credibly can’t produce)
  3. Whether it’s okay for a government to suspend or shut down a business because the business is not complying with the law
  4. Whether that was the right thing to do in this case

It ought to make us nervous when people say that you can’t do (3) because it would affect too many customers. If we were sane, communications infrastructure would be regarded as just as necessary to the public as roads and sewers (and, while we were at it, we would do some upkeep on our roads and sewers).

When I hear, “That crazy judge made 100 million people’s communications systems go dark” I want to make sure we translate that as, “100 million people’s reliance on a particular company that owes them nothing and that could go away for a variety of reasons meant that their communications system went dark.”

If you are asking for my real world solution, it’s have more than one way to contact people you need to contact; be ready for services to just disappear because you don’t know when they will. If you are asking for my non-reality solution I would say only allow corporations to incorporate if they have a mission that is in the public interest (private profit is not in the public interest) and then be ready to nationalize them if they aren’t living up to that mission, including if they can’t provide their services because of their inability to comply with the law. The reality is that most of those 100M people do have alternative ways of contacting people who are important to them and the country is probably less beholden to this app than the article makes it sound.

1 Like

I’m slightly shocked that WhatsApp actually is of use to people. My only dealings with them have been when spammers try to use it and send me junk sites.

Outside America, yes. Plus it supports end to end encryption as mentioned above. Just around the same time that Arsebook bought it IIRC.

What surprises me is that judges never felt the need to shut down, say, banks who deal with drug traders billions in the same way. Shocking isn’t it?


I’ve never had spam on it. Only been contacted by 2 people–one was a tour operator we had used asking for us to leave reviews on the website we found them through.
As for its use to people–the stated and most obvious is that it is a data+wifi substitute for calling and texts. It is incredibly useful if you have international friends/family and can now contact them freely. There are other options that overlap a lot (skype to skype), gmail chat, facebook message, etc…but I find that it performs as well as anything else, and we do use facebook message as a backup with similar functionality for times like this outage.


I live in Brazil. They tried this once before and caved in within hours as they did this time. Politicians and judges are so stupid. They think they will make people love them if they illegally disrupt their lives simply to try to force a foreign company to do their bidding. Didn’t they notice how well the FBI did with Apple? Even more embarrassing, a private company did very quickly what the FBI, with it’s unlimited resources could not do.

Brazil is no smarter than the USA, even after they had that example.

1 Like

I can’t speak for @MadLibrarian but I get WhatsApp related spam without even having an account. Fortunately for me, it gets filtered pretty well but first I ever heard of it was trawling through my spam filter. Did not give a good impression of the service. :laughing:

Although trying to phish people who don’t have accounts is, perhaps, a sign of low quality phishers.


The rule of trawling is to make the net as wide as possible and let the rest sort itself out.


…I was, and I’m glad I asked because your solution is one I can get behind. The slippery slope is how the “public interest” trigger is defined for nationalization (or massive fines, corporate dissolution, whatevs), because I just watched the DOJ pull some seriously shitty fuck fuck in the most recent Apple case, and that gives me pause when considering future government action–in our solution, the DOJ’s lawyers might’ve said, “Yeah, well, Apple, tough shit, this is a matter of national security and the contents of that phone are dear enough to us that we’re now moving to [nationalize/decharter/screw] you.”

Agreed, and I’m not lawyer, never was, never will be, but while I agree that a company’s sole defense should never be, “We’re too important, you can’t stop us,” I also think that there is inherent value in the ability of those 100M people to be able to communicate via that application, and when a judge orders that service blocked or halted, the reasons for doing so should be equally important. Are they important enough in this case? Not sure–maybe this case had to happen in order to test the law’s application to a service that, by definition, doesn’t have the ability to retrieve the thing the law wants retrieved.

Which leads me to the thought–what if we just nationalized all the lawyers?

Lastly, we can all be sure that your (excellent) solution would be picked apart at the atomic level by businesses because capitalistic schmucks.

Realistically these options already exist. Governments have a lot of powers they don’t use (e.g., putting Apple execs on the whim-of-the-president kill list until they are replaced by those who agree to do what they are told). Like I said, my real world solution is just to not depend too heavily on one company because I don’t know what the workable way out is. A lot of Americans don’t trust their government for good reason.

That’s why I said my realistic answer is to just work around the problem by not relying too heavily on any one service. The idea that corporations would be responsible to the public good seems like a fantasy when individuals aren’t and governments aren’t. Thatcher’s neoliberal/randian “There is no such thing as society” is still the rule.

But, yes, the 100M people affected should be taken into account in deciding the right course of action.


Thus conscience does make cowards of us all; And thus the native hue of resolution Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought, And enterprises of great pith and moment With this regard their currents turn awry, And lose the name of action.
1 Like

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.