Brazil court orders phone companies to block WhatsApp message app

RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 16 (Reuters) - A Brazilian court on Wednesday ordered telecommunications providers to block all access to the WhatsApp phone-messaging application for 48 hours throughout Brazil, Latin America’s largest country, the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper said in an online report on Wednesday.

Sinditelbrasil, a Brazilian phone company association, said the blockade of the popular text message and Internet voice telephone service for smartphones would go into effect at midnight (0200 GMT Thursday).

Brazilian phone companies have sought and failed to get the government to limit use of free voice-over-Internet (VOIP) services offered through WhatsApp, controlled by Facebook Inc . The phone companies say that the free WhatsApp calls undermine their own phone services.

The name of the petitioner seeking the injunction before a criminal court in Sao Paulo state was kept secret by the judge. (Reporting by Jeb Blount; Editing by Tom Brown)