WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton is in Brazil for the first time to avoid new service interruptions to the tool as the country’s Supreme Court promotes debates about the integrity of privacy in communications.
The Brazilian Supreme Court is now debating whether legal action can actually block WhatsApp and if the country’s “Internet Constitution” – which has been used as a key argument to the suspensions – violates the Federal Constitution.
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The situation is seen by WhatsApp and Facebook as “unique” across all the countries where it faces legal issues. Acton then came to Brazil with senior legal and technology representatives to explain to local authorities how the company’s encryption mechanisms work, as well as reinforce its stance regarding the provision of data.
Despite the suspensions that have occurred in Brazil, WhatsApp and its owner Facebook have said they have been willing to cooperate with local authorities by providing as much metadata – such as IP addresses, telephone numbers and usernames – as possible when required.
But Acton argued that the only way to break the end-to-end encryption for one user would be to do the same for every user, which would make billions of conversations vulnerable to hackers.
The executive also stressed that it is important to the company that these issues are debated in what is the app’s key markets with 120 million active users.
Telecommunications operators are vocal opposers of the cross-platform messaging system and have been intensively lobbying with the government to prove that WhatsApp is illegal. Unsurprising, given the popularity of the tool for voice calls: Datafolha research suggests that seven out of ten WhatsApp users make calls via the app.
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