WhatsApp judge wins little love in Brazil; but respect in his hometown

viernes 6 de mayo de 2016 15:17 GYT

By Jeb Blount

LAGARTO, Brazil May 6 (Reuters) - Judge Marcel Montalvão joined some of Brazil's top politicians as one of the country's most-hated public figures when he ordered a 72-hour shutdown of WhatsApp this week, abruptly cutting off the messaging service for some 100 million users.

But none of the young women staring at their cell phones and tapping away on the now-restored WhatsApp in a patch of shade outside Montalvão's courthouse in the small city of Lagarto were among the haters.

Even as the judge prepared to rule on cases involving their loved ones in a courthouse compound that is heavily guarded and sits behind a high, electrified fence, the women expressed understanding for a man known locally as fiercely dedicated to fighting crime.

"It was a pain at first. We use zap-zap all the time," said Marcielle Santana, 26, using the universal slang term in Brazil for Facebook -owned WhatsApp.

"But you have to respect him. He's going after drug gangs, pedophiles. That's more important than a little time without zap-zap."

Montalvão ordered Brazil's main telecom operators to block WhatsApp on Monday for 72 hours after it failed to produce for the court messages supposedly traded between members of Brazil's most powerful drug gang.

In March, he ordered the imprisonment of a Brazil-based Facebook executive for failing to comply with a previously attempted block on WhatsApp. The executive was jailed and freed after a day.

This week, Montalvão's order was lifted by a higher court about 24 hours after it went into effect. A similar temporary block of the messaging service occurred last December after a judge in Sao Paulo state ordered it shut for failing to share information in a criminal case.   Continuación...