WhatsApp messenger is now back online in Brazil following a temporary suspension ordered by a judge.
Supreme Court judge Ricardo Lewandowski overturned a ruling by lower court judge Daniela Barbosa that WhatsApp should be taken offline. Barbosa handed down the order after WhatsApp refused to provide information as part of a criminal investigation, according to the BBC.
Lower court ruling overruled after a few hours
This is the third time that WhatsApp has been suspended in Brazil in the past two years, although this outage lasted just a few hours. The messaging service is incredibly popular in the South American nation, where it has around 100 million users.
Judge Lewandowski lifted the nationwide ban and called the action disproportionate. WhatsApp maintains that it does not have access to the information requested by the lower court judge.
“The suspension of service apparently violates the fundamental precept of freedom of expression and communication,” the Supreme Court said in its ruling. Judge Lewandowski said that the decision seemed “not very reasonable and not very proportional.”
WhatsApp has returned to normal service following the ruling. The app has been owned by Facebook since February 2015.
Judge Barbosa said that parent company Facebook failed “to provide information that will be critical to the success of an investigation and later to bolster the criminal case.” It was not immediately clear which case she was talking about, however Barbosa did say that WhatsApp had been asked to provide messages on multiple occasions to police in Caxias, a city north of Rio.
Continued WhatsApp outages in Brazil
WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum said it was “shocking that less than two months after Brazilian people and lawmakers loudly rejected blocks of services like WhatsApp, history is repeating itself.”
Koum was talking about the May suspension, which lasted for 72 hours. Users had to use alternative messaging services, such as Telegram.
Brazilians use smartphone apps at an incredibly high rate due to the fact that mobile phone charges are among the highest in the world.
In its defense WhatsApp says that it is not able to share the requested information because all of its communications are encrypted. The company says that “only you and the person you’re communicating with can read what is sent.”
It is thought that continued regular outages to the WhatsApp service could lead users in Brazil to desert the app in favor of competitors.