In a rare personal intervention, Brazil’s Chief Justice on Tuesday quashed a lower court order and allowed popular social media application WhatsApp to resume operations nationwide. A Rio de Janeiro judge earlier Tuesday shut down the service on allegations that WhatsApp has failed to aid police in criminal investigations. Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski vacated the original order, saying the local judge had “over-reacted” to the allegations. He emphasized that the original action was taken to the detriment of users, not just owners, of the service, and said the order was a violation of freedom of speech provisions of the constitution. Tuesday marked the third time since December for WhatsApp to suffer a temporary suspension. Lewandowski’s strong statement Tuesday led some legal scholars to predict that local judges will become more reluctant to issue suspension orders in the future. WhatsApp has some 100 million Brazilian account holders.
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