RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) – A judge in Brazil on Wednesday slapped an $11.6 million fine on the local Facebook branch over the company’s refusal to surrender data from its WhatsApp messenger program to a police investigation. Facebook Fine
The order came from a judge in the northern state of Amazonas, saying Facebook was failing to meet its legal obligations. Facebook Fine
Facebook Brasil has “shown tremendous disregard for Brazilian institutions,” prosecutors added.
WhatsApp has been owned by social media giant Facebook since February 2015. Facebook Fine
The long-running dispute pits Brazilian authorities’ insistence that they need access to communications between criminal suspects against Facebook’s argument that it is protecting privacy and freedom of communication.
Specifics of the police investigation were not disclosed.
Facebook did not immediately respond to an email seeing comment on the fine.
Earlier this month, Brazilian authorities temporarily blocked WhatsApp across the country for the third time in less than a year. Facebook Fine
The Justice Ministry has not said how that communication was obtained.
WhatsApp is estimated to be used by 100 million Brazilians, making Brazil the second biggest user country after South Africa, according to data cited by the court.