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Judge overturns Brazilian WhatsApp shutdown in continuing fight over encrypted data

On Tuesday a Brazilian judge lifted a temporary block on Facebook's WhatsApp Messenger, imposed yesterday by another judge in a fight over chat data demanded in a drug trafficking case.




The original ruling was overturned following an appeal by WhatsApp lawyers, Reuters said. Had it been left intact, the ban would've kept the app offline in Brazil for another two days.

WhatsApp is extremely popular in the country, used by over 100 million people there for text messaging and voice calls. In fact the app is often used in place of regular phone service, given high cellular rates.

The judge who imposed Monday's ban, Marcel Montalvao, has been trying to obtain WhatsApp records related to the drug case. WhatsApp, however, has repeatedly stated that because the data is encrypted, it doesn't have any readable data to turn over.

Prior to this week the dispute saw a short-lived ban in December, and the March arrest of Facebook's Latin American VP, Diego Dzodan. Dzodan was released in a day following an appeals court decision.

The situation has parallels with Apple's legal battles in the U.S., where the company has fought government orders to help unlock iPhone data in cases where Apple would have to write new code to do so. That would weaken the encryption in iOS, Apple lawyers and executives have argued, which is intended to keep out criminals and other hackers.