Mobile messaging app, WhatsApp, has been given a 48-hour suspension in Brazil by a Brazilian court judge early Thursday.
The court in Sao Paulo made the order because it said WhatsApp had repeatedly failed to co-operate in a criminal investigation.
A Brazilian phone-company association said it received the order to shut off WhatsApp text message and Internet voice telephone service across the country (Brazil) Wednesday afternoon.
The blockade went into effect at midnight (0200 GMT Thursday) as required by the court.
WhatsApp is hugely popular in Brazil, where roughly half of the country’s 200 million people use its free text and voice messaging functions regularly. Many poorer Brazilians depend exclusively on WhatsApp for their day-to-day communications. It was the most downloaded app last year, and according to Facebook, more than 100 million Brazilians use WhatsApp.
“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.
In addition the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg who acquired WhatsApp in early 2014 said: “This is a sad day for Brazil. Until today, Brazil has been an ally in creating an open Internet.
“I am stunned that our efforts to protect people’s data would result in such an extreme decision by a single judge to punish every person in Brazil who uses WhatsApp. We hope the Brazilian courts quickly reverse course.”
Founded in 2009, WhatsApp started life as a basic text-messaging app but one that also offered the ability to leave voice messages. The app, which operates on just about every mobile platform, was acquired by Facebook last year for $19 billion.