The Strategist

Court in Brazil blocked $ 6 million on Facebook's accounts

07/01/2016 - 14:35

Brazilian court has blocked 19.5 million reais ($ 6.07 million) on the Facebook account. The reason was the fact that WhatsApp service owned by the social network refused to grant access to messages of drug traffickers, according to G1.

Over the past five months, WhatsApp has accumulated fines of $ 6 million. The messenger does not have an account in Brazil, so the court blocked Facebook’s account. WhatsApp operation has not been suspended.

The investigation in relation of the drug factions began in January. Two of its members were arrested. Members of the organization communicated only through WhatsApp. That is why the police, without having access to their reports, cannot establish the main buyers of drugs and find other defendants in the case. If WhatsApp granted police with access, the operation’s result would be different, the department’s representative emphasized.

After WhatsApp refused to provide the data, the authorities imposed a fine on the service. For each day of ignoring police demands, the messenger has to pay R$ 50 thousand (12.7 thousand dollars).

In May, a court in Brazil blocked WhatsApp for 72 hours due to the same reason, reminds Reuters. However, this decision was overturned by another judge in a day.

In March, Sao Paulo police arrested Diego Dzodan, Vice President for Latin America at Facebook and Instagram. It is reported by The Guardian, citing the police’s statement. The manager was arrested by the court for refusing to cooperate with the investigation against organized crime and drug trafficking.

The fact-finding has not affect the very social network yet. However, WhatsApp messenger, belongs to the company, has already got disquiet. In December 2015, the Brazilian court has blocked WhatsApp for 12 hours for refusing to transfer information to the police’s representatives. 

WhatsApp’s competitor, meanwhile, took advantage of the messenger’s unavailability. Telegram messenger then had received 5.7 million new registered users.

Facebook’s spokesman said the company believed that the social network manager’s arrest in connection with WhatsApp’s case was "excessive and disproportionate". Particularly, he noted that the messenger works separately from the social network. According to him, Facebook itself was always ready to answer questions from the Brazilian authorities. 

Brazilian users are among the most active users of social networks, including Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter. About half the country's population uses WhatsApp, notes The Guardian. In early February, WhatsApp announced that total number of its users worldwide has exceeded 1 billion people.

The investigation into drug trafficking began in January. Two members of the group were arrested, but the police are not able to establish other defendants in the case. The traffickers communicated through WhatsApp.