The Brazil branch of the Anonymous hacker collective has launched a DDoS attack against the website (tjrj.jus.br) of the Rio court that banned WhatsApp usage across the country.
The attack, meant as a warning shot, took place yesterday and only lasted a few hours. The court website was back to normal by 15:00, local time. The hacker group took credit for the attack via a post on their Facebook page, where they also explained their reasons.
Yesterday, the same Rio court ordered ISPs to block WhatsApp across Brazil. The country’s five major operators, Claro, Nextel, Oi, TIM, and Vivo, all complied.
Facebook started having Whatsapp-related problems in Brazil in February 2015, when a judge wanted the company to help in a criminal investigation by revealing messages exchanged in encrypted WhatsApp conversations.
Because the company could not aid law enforcement, last December, a judge banned WhatsApp for two days but later decided to fine the company instead. In March 2016, the same court went one step further by arresting Facebook’s Vice President for Latin America, Diego Dzodan. He was later released when Facebook told the judge that WhatsApp was not under Dzodan’s supervision, being a company runs separately from Facebook.
The situation escalated once more in May, when a Brazil judge banned WhatsApp but was forced to reinstate access to the social network following an appeal. Yesterday, judges banned WhatsApp once again, and this time, the company faces a fine of $15,300 per day until it decides to comply with the judicial order to decrypt the messages involved in the criminal investigation.
A few hours after the attack took place, the same court, TJRJ (Tribunal de Justiça do Estado do Rio de Janeiro), decided to lift WhatsApp’s ban. The social network is now once again accessible in the country.