A Brazilian judge has ordered a block on 19.5 million real (roughly $6 million) owned by Facebook, according to a new report by O Globo’s G1 news service. It’s the latest move in an ongoing legal fight with WhatsApp, which saw days-long telecom blackouts of the service in both May and December.
Brazilian courts have repeatedly ordered WhatsApp to turn over messages and data related to a drug case. WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption means that data is inaccessible even to WhatsApp’s own employees, making it impossible for the company to comply with the order. The result has been a standoff between WhatsApp and the Brazilian judiciary, which has significantly hampered the company’s ability to operate.
The fight has also incurred significant fines, which led to today’s financial block. According to the order, the 19.5 million real blocked by the judge constitute unpaid fines by WhatsApp. Because the messaging service doesn’t have offices or accounts in Brazil, the fine was levied on Facebook, its parent company.
Facebook and WhatsApp did not respond to a request for comment.