WhatsApp is banned in Brazil for 2 days -- and a competitor has gained 1.5 million users

WhatsApp, the popular messaging application owned by Facebook, has been banned in Brazil for two days after failing to comply with a court order, BuzzFeed News reports

“The company did not attend the court order [and so] the prosecution requested the blocking of services for a period of 48 hours, based on the law,” said the 1st Criminal Court of São Bernardo do Campo in São Paulo in a statement. 

The case, according to CNBC, is related to the use of voice-over-internet (VOIP) calls through WhatsApp. Brazil’s phone companies argue that this classifies WhatsApp as telecommunications company and, as such, it should be governed by Brazilian law. 

All of Brazil’s major mobile networks are being told to block access to WhatsApp for two days starting at 2 a.m. GMT on Thursday (9 p.m. ET).  

According to TechCrunch, over 93% of Brazil’s internet users — around 110 million people — use WhatsApp in an effort to avoid excessive phone bills.

Telegram, a rival messaging service that is known for its security features, has seen excessively high demand in Brazil after the ruling passed. In a tweet, the company said its service had picked up over 1.5 million users and had “all hands on deck to accommodate the crazy load.”

Over 500,000 users signed up for Telegram in the first three hours of the outage, according to a tweet. This then rose to one million just an hour later and then to 1.5 million. 

Jan Koum, the founder of WhatsApp, said he was “disappointed in the short-sighted decision” in a Facebook status (which Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg liked):

PostbyJan Koum.

Business Insider has reached out to WhatsApp to ask about the ruling. We will update the post when we hear back. 

NOW WATCH: Apple wants to replace the iPhone with this advanced technology

NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos

Want to read a more in-depth view on the trends influencing Australian business and the global economy? BI / Research is designed to help executives and industry leaders understand the major challenges and opportunities for industry, technology, strategy and the economy in the future. Sign up for free at research.businessinsider.com.au.