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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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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