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WhatsApp is headed for a 72-hour blackout in Brazil

WhatsApp is headed for a 72-hour blackout in Brazil

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A court order is about to cut off WhatsApp service in Brazil for three days, according to a report from O Globo. First announced on April 26th, the order was scheduled to take effect at 1PM ET today. That measure is the result of a failed 2013 access order from a branch of civil police that investigates criminal activity online. Because of the app's encryption system, messages on WhatsApp are typically inaccessible to outside actors, so it is unlikely that the company could have complied with the court order.

The order specifically targets Brazil's five central wireless carriers, which are forbidden from transmitting WhatsApp data for the duration of the blackout period. Any carriers found violating that order will be fined 500,000 reals, equivalent to roughly $140,000. Some carriers would not confirm they had received the order when reached by O Globo, but they are expected to comply.

In December, a similar order was issued for a 48-hour blackout. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who purchased WhatsApp in 2014, described the order as "a sad day for Brazil." The country's mobile carriers complied with the order, although it appears to have had unintended consequences for the country's police. The encrypted messaging service Telegram reported over a million new signups during the period, suggesting most Brazilians simply traded one encrypted messaging service for another.

WhatsApp did not respond to a request for comment. We will update with any response.