Is the sharing economy invincible to government regulation? One legal kerfuffle in Brazil suggests that it is. Belen Marty reports in the PanAm Post:
Brazil restored the world’s most popular messaging app on Thursday morning, December 17, putting an end to a 12-hour ban resulting from a court order.
Millions of Brazilians woke up on Thursday unable to use their favorite smartphone messaging app WhatsApp. On Wednesday, a judge had ordered the service blocked in all Brazil for 48 hours, effective at midnight.+
But an appellate judge, who deemed the measure “unreasonable,” lifted the ban around noon, allowing WhatsApp to work again in Brazil, local newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo reported.
What caused the Brazilian judicial system to suddenly change course overnight? Popular demand.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a status update condemning the move, and an army of WhatsApp users in Brazil shared the outrage online. Brazil has 100 million users as a result of its over-regulated and expensive cellular industry. They were not going to bow down to government bullies denying their access to affordable communication.
The power of the people to override outrageous government regulation is becoming more common in the sharing economy. Besides WhatsApp, companies like Uber and Airbnb have won decisive victories against local governments trying to cease their operations in major cities like New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. In many instances, the companies have continued to operate despite cease-and-desist orders and even arrests because they know that consumer demand will vindicate them.
In most instances, they’re right. This is a remarkable trend for the Internet age, and let’s hope it continues.