Brazilian Court Bans Messaging App WhatsApp

June 21, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. overturn / ˌoʊ vərˈtɜrn / (v.) – to reverse a previously released decision or ruling because it is wrong
Example: Cars can now use the roads on any day after the color coding scheme was overturned.

2. insist / ɪnˈsɪst / (v.) – to keep saying that something is true
Example: The witness insisted that she saw the suspect in the crime scene.

3. access / ˈæk sɛs / (n.) – the ability or permission to use or approach something
ExampleAccess to the database is limited to the management.

4. executive / ɪgˈzɛk yə tɪv / (n.) – someone who holds a high position in the administration of a company or organization
Example: He worked in the company for ten years before becoming an executive.

5. detain / dɪˈteɪn / (v.) – to keep in one place, just like a jail
Example: The suspects were detained overnight for questioning.


Read the text below.
Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp faced a 72-hour ban in Brazil.

On May 2, Judge Marcel Montalvao from Sergipe, Brazil gave a court order for the app to stop its operations for three days. The order was given after the app’s management failed to adhere to a request related to the investigation of criminals who used the app. The ban lasted for only 24 hours, however, after another judge from Sergipe’s court of appeals overturned the previous judge’s decision.

The lifting of the ban pleased the WhatsApp management, as well as its users.

Brazil has around 200 million regular users of WhatsApp. The app allows sending of free text and voice messages. It also allows the creation of groups, in which people can share images, videos, and audio files with each other. The service is available to several smartphone units, and it operates using Internet connection.

WhatsApp was banned after it failed to submit records of conversations being requested by the court. The court ordered the management to submit chat records related to a drug trafficking case. However, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum insisted that due to security encryptions, even the management has no access to the requested information.

Chat messages in the app are secured through encryption, which means that they cannot be accessed by anyone except the sender and the receiver. However, encryption is controversial because while it ensures security, it also allows criminals to hide from authorities.

Prior to the incident, the app was also banned for similar reasons in December 2015. The ban lasted for only around 12 hours, but one of Facebook’s executives in Brazil was briefly detained.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What do you think were the major effects of the 24-hour ban on the app’s users?
·         What could have been a good alternative for the app while it was banned?

Discussion B

·         Do you approve of encrypting conversations to make them inaccessible to others? Why or why not?
·         Do you think that private conversations should be submitted to court for investigation? Why or why not?

June 21, 2016