WhatsApp Encryption Policies Under Scrutiny in Brazil

WhatsApp Encryption Policies Under Scrutiny in Brazil

The co-founder for WhatsApp is Brian Acton and he is currently in Brazil. The purpose of the trip is to avoid any possible interruption in service and Brazil’s Supreme Court goes into talks to discuss the privacy of communications allowed there.

WhatsApp has been directly affected a total of four times in Brazil because of perceived noncompliance issues with court orders directly involving crimes. WhatsApp claimed that they are unable to keep an eye on all communications, as their messages are encrypted and hard to read, even if intercepted.

In 2015, the WhatsApp service was suspended after failing to provide the Brazilian police with criminal case related information. However, the service was quickly reinstated, but not after affecting about one hundred million people, to include businesses. Judge Xavier de Souza was quoted at that time as saying, “It is not reasonable that millions of users be affected by the inertia of the company.”

The market for smart phones in Brazil is a sophisticated one, as is the social network market. The amount of time Brazilians spend on these is about double what it is in America.

At this time, the Supreme Court of Brazil is looking into whether or not they can legally block the WhatsApp messenger under their current Internet Constitution. Further talks are ongoing as to whether or not that Internet Constitution is a direct violation of their Federal Constitution.

Legal representatives accompanied Acton on his trip to Brazil in order to reinforce the companies standing on data provisioning. He said, at a public hearing in front of the Supreme Court, “Encryption keys relating to conversations are restricted to the parties involved in those conversations. No one has access to them, not even WhatsApp”.

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In the face of all that has occurred in Brazil already, WhatsApp, along with its owner, Facebook, has been more than willing to provide key information and metadata. That metadata can include telephone numbers, usernames, and even IP addresses of the users in questions.

In trying to reach a sort of middle ground, the Brazilian Court would like to be able to hold certain information at a registered office inside the country. Action stated that to do so would include having to break that encryption, which is end-to-end, for not just one user, but all of them. In doing so, this would make these users very susceptible to being hacked, making their security nonexistent.

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