By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – For the third time in less than a year, the popular online messaging service, WhatsApp, was shutdown in Brazil by a Rio de Janeiro judge on Tuesday (July 19th), leaving millions of users unable to communicate through the mobile app. The decision was overturned by the Chief Justice of Brazil’s Supreme Court (STF) at the end of the day.
“The suspension of the activity of WhatsApp violates the right to communication, guaranteed constitutionally to the Brazilian people,” noted Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski in his decision.
The Chief Justice also said that the STF’s decision is final and will be applied to all future lower court rulings, with no more suspensions of the WhatsApp messaging application for any judicial decision.
Executives of one of the most used messaging services in Brazil celebrated. “We hope that the [Supreme Court’s] decision will put an end to the blockades that have penalized million of Brazilians, so that they can continue to use services like WhatsApp to connect with those who really matter to them,” said the app’s executives in a statement late on Tuesday according to Agencia Brasil.
The messaging service was blocked by Rio de Janeiro Judge Daniella de Souza, who said company executives did not comply with a judicial order to intercept messages in real time for a criminal investigation.
WhatsApp, which is owned by U.S. company Facebook, is the most widely used app in Brazil and has about 100 million personal users. Companies, federal and local government also use the service to send messages, voicemails and pictures over the internet.