Access in Brazil to the WhatsApp phone-messaging application was cut off early on Thursday after a Brazilian judge told local phone companies to block the popular service for 48 hours for failure to comply with a July court order in a criminal case.
SindiTelebrasil, a Brazilian phone-company association, said it received the order to shut off WhatsApp text message and Internet voice telephone service for smartphones throughout Latin America’s largest country Wednesday afternoon. The association’s members put the blockade into effect at midnight (0200 GMT Thursday) as required by the court.
“We are disappointed in the short-sighted decision to cut off access to WhatsApp, a communication tool that so many Brazilians have come to depend on, and sad to see Brazil isolate itself from the rest of the world,” said Jan Koum, chief executive of WhatsApp, in a statement posted on Facebook.
Brazilian phone companies have sought and failed to get the government to limit use of free voice-over-Internet (VOIP) services offered through WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook Inc. The phone companies say the free WhatsApp calls undermine their own services.