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Brazil court freezes Facebook funds over WhatsApp dispute

A Brazilian judge has blocked access to a portion of Facebook's Brazilian bank accounts after it repeatedly ignored requests for WhatsApp user data in a drug case.


WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum

Albert Gea/Reuters/Corbis

A Brazilian judge has frozen 19.5 million reais ($6.07 million, £2.2 million, $4 million AU) in Facebook funds after the social networking company repeatedly ignored federal orders to release WhatsApp messages related to a drug investigation.

The messages could contain evidence linking a cocaine smuggling ring in Brazil to local cohorts in Bolivia, Paraguay and Spain, according to a Reuters report Thursday.

Brazilian police have repeatedly asked WhatsApp for the messages, Reuters said. After determining non-compliance, a judge blocked parent company Facebook from accessing money in its Brazilian bank account. The amount is equal to the fines incurred over the last five months, the news service reported.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.