Why Is WhatsApp Refusing to Comply With a Valid Warrant?

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On Wednesday, a judge in Brazil ordered the temporary suspension of WhatsApp, a popular Facebook messaging app. Everyone went nuts. Mark Zuckerberg said he was “stunned.” The CEO of WhatsApp said it was “sad to see Brazil isolate itself from the rest of the world.” Users moved in droves to another messaging app.

Today, another judge lifted the ban because “it does not seem reasonable that millions of users are affected” over a tiff between WhatsApp and a judge.

Fair enough. The first judge pretty clearly overreacted. But apparently this whole thing started because the judge wanted access to messages from a suspect in a drug trafficking trial. The judge issued legal warrants several months ago, but What’sApp refused to comply.

Does WhatsApp have a response to this? Do they think the warrant is invalid? Do they think they don’t have to respond to warrants? Or what? I’m generally opposed to governments hoovering up messages and phone calls without a warrant, but if there’s a warrant in a legitimate criminal case, then you have to turn things over. What am I missing?

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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