WhatsApp blocked -- and unblocked -- in Brazil, again

Facebook VP questioned over WhatsApp data
Facebook VP questioned over WhatsApp data

WhatsApp has been blocked -- and quickly unblocked -- in Brazil by a judge for the third time in less than a year.

A court ordered mobile carriers in the country to block the Facebook-owned messaging app, which is used by 100 million people in Brazil -- and perhaps many more as the Olympics kick off in Rio next month.

The ban was suspended hours later by Brazil's Supreme Court, which called to "immediately restore" service.

The legal back and forth is just the latest in a heated standoff between WhatsApp and local authorities who believe it should provide user data to help criminal investigations. WhatsApp has previously said it can't provide the data that courts wants because user messages are encrypted.

Jan Koum, the CEO and cofounder of WhatsApp, called the latest court order "shocking."

"We're working to get WhatsApp back online in Brazil," Koum wrote in a post on his Facebook page. "It's shocking that less than two months after Brazilian people and lawmakers loudly rejected blocks of services like WhatsApp, history is repeating itself."

Related: Facebook and WhatsApp might be the next Apple in encryption fight

In May, a judge ordered a 72-hour ban on the service for failing to hand over data in a police investigation and arrested a Facebook VP. The ban was overturned by a judge less than a day later and the executive was released.

WhatsApp was also banned for 48 hours in December.

The court dispute highlights the growing tension between tech companies and local governments over data and encryption -- with no end in sight. Both WhatsApp and Facebook (FB) have doubled down on providing end-to-end encryption for messaging.

As news of the ban spread on Tuesday, many WhatsApp users took to Twitter to complain about losing access to the app they rely on to communicate with friends and family.

"You have to be kidding me that WhatsApp is blocked again," one tweeted, according to a translation.

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