It’s been a bad week for social messaging company WhatsApp. Due to a court ruling, the service was blocked temporarily for two days in Brazil. Even within the short timeframe, more than one million users have stopped using the service and instead migrated to Telegram–another similar application that lets users communicate without relying on country telecom services.
WhatsApp, owned by Facebook (purchased for $22 billion) is only one of the many applications that let users communicate through the internet without using traditional payment methods provided by telecommunication companies. Users can text, chat, and make video calls.
This quick migration/exodus is only the result of a 48-hour ban, followed by a court order from a Brazilian judge. The judge declared that WhatsApp failed to comply with a judicial order from July 23rd. As a result, the messaging service is found guilty of providing “pirate” services while also undermining the role of the country’s telecommunications companies without any form of regulation.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on his Facebook page. “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.”
The ban on WhatsApp sets a dangerous precedent for mobile technology and clearly illustrates the power that telecommunication providers are struggling to hold onto. However, while the government’s issue and proposed reasoning behind the ban have proven effective in stopping WhatsApp, it hasn’t proven effective in limiting user from using their preferred method of communication–even if it’s in a different platform. Telegram expects that even more users will start using their service as a result of the WhatsApp ban.
Earlier in the year a judge also temporarily blocked WhatsApp for not assisting in an investigation, and in the last few months telecom operators have been trying to push WhatsApp out of the country, claiming it’s not legally sound or economic for the country.
With VOIP bans becoming increasingly commonplace in countries around the word, more and more users are turning to VPN service to unblock Whatsapp and other popular messaging apps. TorGuard offers fast Brazil VPN services in Sao Paulo and fifty five countries world wide.
UPDATE: Shortly after this post went live a judge in São Paulo state lifted the block on Whatsapp saying, “it does not seem reasonable that millions of users are affected”.