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Brazilian court overturns block on WhatsApp

Brazilian court overturns block on WhatsApp
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A judge in Brazil has overturned a ruling temporarily blocking WhatsApp, the popular messaging service, a representative for the company confirmed Tuesday afternoon.

The news service AFP reported that the company said service would be back up shortly after a first attempt to get the block overturned failed.

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Cellular carriers were told by a court to block WhatsApp’s service for 72 hours on Monday as part of ongoing wrangling over whether the company should turn over data as part of a criminal investigation. Telecommunications companies would have faced fines in excess of $100,000 for not complying with the block.

"Thankfully, WhatsApp is now back online," said Jan Koum, WhatsApp’s CEO, in a statement on Tuesday after the block was overturned. "We have no intention of compromising people's security and we hope those impacted by this decision join us in making their voices heard in support of an open and secure internet.

"The last thing we want is to see WhatsApp blocked again."

WhatsApp is especially popular in Brazil, where it is said to have more than 100 million users.

Because the data is protected by encryption, now the default setting on the service, the Facebook-owned WhatsApp is unable to turn over readable data to law enforcement. The company, like others faced with similar situations, has been resistant to the idea of compromising customer data.

“Yet again millions of innocent Brazilians are being punished because a court wants WhatsApp to turn over information we repeatedly said we don’t have,” Koum said in a Facebook post on Monday night. “While we are working to get WhatsApp back up and running as soon as possible, we have no intention of compromising the security of our billion users around the world.”

This is not the first time the company has been at odds with the Brazilian justice system over whether it needs to comply with court orders. In December, a judge blocked the service for a few hours before that ruling was overturned.

— This story was updated at 4:32 p.m.