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Brazilian Supreme Court overturns WhatsApp ban within hours

Just hours after it was issued, a ban on WhatsApp in Brazil was reportedly overturned by the country's Supreme Court, which argued that the measure may not have been reasonable or proportionate.




"We hope that this puts an end to blocks that have punished millions of Brazilians and that people can continue using services like WhatsApp to stay in touch with those who matter to them," a WhatsApp spokesperson said, according to TechCrunch. Yesterday's brief ban was the third to impact the Facebook-owned company in the past year, though a fourth was appealed before it could take effect.

The lower-court judge who issued the ban, Daniela Barbosa, did so because WhatsApp refused to hand over conversation data wanted in a criminal investigation. Barbosa was also reportedly upset with the way the company was responding to the court, accusing it of treating Brazil like a "banana republic," and moreover replying via email and in English, despite the country's official language being Portuguese.

WhatsApp has repeatedly insisted that it can't hand over data Brazilian courts have been demanding, since it not only doesn't save messages but uses end-to-end encryption, making the content unreadable to anyone outside a conversation.

The Supreme Court's intervention could make future bans less likely, but a number of government officials in Brazil, the U.S., and other countries have argued for limits on encryption, since criminals may otherwise be able to hide from law enforcement and spy agencies. Groups supporting so-called "strong" encryption, including Apple, have argued points like the importance of privacy and the defense encryption offers against hackers and any malicious governments.