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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