Thursday, 17 December 2015

WhatsApp banned in Brazil

As Nigerians tackle the Senate on plans to pass a social media bill, residents of Brazil are facing a challenge of their own.
A court in the South American country today ordered cellular service providers to block WhatsApp for two days.

The AFP reported that the unprecedented blockage of the smartphone application was to implement a Sao Paulo state court order.
According to the report, the blockage is meant to take effect today from 2pm.
However, it was unclear if the service providers would comply with the court order.
The court said WhatsApp had been asked several times to cooperate in a criminal investigation, but had repeatedly failed to comply, the AFP said.
It added that a judge in Piaui State tried but failed earlier this year to block the app, noting that authorities said they could not disclose details of the criminal investigation because it is an ongoing case.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg criticised the ban in a post on his personal Facebook page.
“This is a sad day for Brazil. Until today, Brazil has been an ally in creating an open internet,” he said.
“Brazilians have always been among the most passionate in sharing their voice online. 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.”
Mr Zuckerberg encouraged users to turn to Facebook Messenger as a communication tool until the ban was lifted. Rival messaging services have already been reporting surges in user numbers, with Telegram, an instant messaging service that encrypts communication between users, reporting more than 1.5 million Brazilians had joined since the court order was made.
A bill, which, among other things, seeks up to two years in prison for anyone who makes a false allegation against public officials or institutions, has led to outrage on and beyond the social media it is aimed at “regulating”.
Amid the outrage, President Muhammadu Buhari dissociated himself from the bill, which was sponsored by the Senator representing Kebbi South, Senator Ibrahim N’Allah.
More Nigerians have come out to condemn the bill, which has been tagged “anti-social media bill” in recent days.
On Tuesday, a professor of Mass Communication at the University of Lagos, Ralph Akinfeleye, called on N’Allah to apologise to Nigerians.

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