World Bulletin / News Desk
Brazilians are back to using a popular messaging service after a judge overturned a ruling that blocked the service nationwide for 72 hours amid a legal battle.
The decision Tuesday by judge Ricardo Mucio Santana, in the small northeast state of Sergipe, benefits approximately 100 million WhatsApp users who were barred from the application since Monday afternoon.
Santana reversed the decision by his colleague, Marcel Maia Montalvão, against the Facebook-owned company for refusing to provide information about texts sent via the platform by suspects linked to drug trafficking.
WhatsApp asked for a reconsideration of the judgment, according to local media, arguing that it affects millions of users, while the criminal investigation that forced the ruling targeted a few individuals.
In December, a judge in the São Paulo metro region area ordered the messaging service to be blocked for 48 hours because of a criminal investigation that was not disclosed. That interruption lasted about 12 hours.
WhatsApp said Monday that it does not have the information requested by authorities an expressed disappointment by the outage.
“After having cooperated in the extent of our ability with the Brazilian courts we are disappointed with the judge’s decision, which punishes million Brazilians who depend on our services to communicate, manage their business and more”, it said.
The ruling Monday was the second in the series of legal battles between Brazilian authorities and Facebook.
In March the company's top representative for Latin America was detained overnight after authorities said the company failed to comply with an order to turn over information regarding WhatApp users linked to a probe of organized crime and drug related activities.
Following the block Monday, telecommunication companies in Brazil saw a 45 percent jump in the volume of usage of other services offered, including long distance calls and text messages.