Costa Rica Supreme Court: You have a right to WhatsApp

July 30, 2015

Costa Rica’s Supreme Court ruled that there is a constitutional right to use WhatsApp.

The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, ruled in favor of an appellant whose employer ordered him to shut down a private WhatsApp group chat named after the clinical laboratory at the Max Terán Valls Hospital in Quepos, Puntarenas, where he works, according to a statement from the court on Wednesday.

WhatsApp is a messaging service that allows users to avoid SMS text charges by chatting online. The app is extremely popular around the world with 450 million users who can share media, make voice calls and talk to friends through private direct or group chat rooms. The messaging service was acquired by Facebook for $19 billion in February 2014.

The laboratory’s director explained that the chat had become full of jokes and non-related work conversations in her opinion, and that the presence of people in the chat who did not work in the lab created the potential for information about their work to be misused.

The court was unmoved by the argument and said the director’s response was “disproportionate.” Sala IV ruled that the order to close the private chat infringed on the appellant’s rights considering that the “Laboratorio Clínico 2308” chat group was private and not institutional. The judges decided that ordering the chat closed would “imply censoring the possibility of the appellant and all others in the group to freely express their opinions.”

Sala IV FTW.

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