Brazil Arrests Facebook Exec Because Company Refuses To Reveal Info On Whatsapp Users
from the arrested-for-not-doing-the-impossible dept
Back in December, we noted that, somewhat ridiculously, all of the super popular Whatsapp service (owned by Facebook) was blocked in Brazil, because Facebook refused to reveal information on Whatsapp users as part of a drug trafficking investigation. While the court only allowed the block to last for a little while, apparently things have escalated, with a senior Facebook exec now being arrested for failing to cooperate in this case:
Facebook?s vice president for Latin America has been arrested on his way to work in S?o Paulo, Brazil. Federal police picked up Diego Dzodan because Facebook disobeyed a court order to help investigators in a drug case that involves a WhatsApp user.
The arrest was made at the request of officials from the state of Sergipe, in Brazil?s north-east. In a statement, the federal police said Facebook/WhatsApp had repeatedly failed to comply with court orders relating to an organized crime and drug-trafficking investigation.
This reminds me, somewhat of the case where some Google execs were tried and convicted in Italy, because they didn’t take down a video fast enough (the company took it down, just not fast enough). While the underlying issues are different, arresting execs of tech companies because you don’t like the way they operate their business seems like a good way to make sure innovative internet services are not offered in your country at all. And, in this case, where Facebook relies on strong encryption in Whatsapp, it seems likely that the issue may be that it was impossible to comply with the court order in this case (though the full details are not yet known). Either way, arresting an exec over this seems extremely troubling — especially in a country such as Brazil that has been trying to set itself up as a strong supporter of a free and open internet, and that had argued against surveillance.