Different Brazilian Judge Orders Facebook Exec Released After Arrest

from the what's-going-on-down-there dept

A bit of a follow up to yesterday's story about Brazilian law enforcement arresting Facebook vice president for Latin America, Diego Dzodan, because Whatsapp (a Facebook subsidiary) refused to help in a drug trafficking case. This was a ridiculous move by almost any measure: (1) While Whatsapp is a Facebook subsidiary, it's operated independently, so arresting a Facebook exec is like arresting an investor for what one of its companies does; (2) Whatsapp uses strong end-to-end encryption from Open Whisper Systems, the folks who make the gold standard encrypted communication system Signal Private Messenger, meaning that it's impossible for Whatsapp or Facebook to decrypt messages; and (3) jailing unrelated executives over issues like that is just insane.

Having heard from some folks in Brazil, it appears that part of the issue here was that the court wasn't necessarily seeking decrypted contents, but metadata about who someone was contacting. However, Whatsapp -- which doesn't appear to have operations in Brazil -- more or less ignored the demand. There's something of an open question as to whether or not Whatsapp has the metadata in question or whether or not Brazilian wiretapping laws apply to it, but that's another issue for another day. Either way, the original judge decided that because Whatsapp is owned by Facebook, that the two were basically the same, and thus the court could just throw a random Facebook exec in jail.

Thankfully, at least some cooler heads prevailed, and another judge has ordered that Dzodan be released, saying that the original order was "unlawful coercion."
The judge, Ruy Pinheiro, considered the detention of Diego Dzodan in Sao Paulo on Tuesday "unlawful coercion," the court in Sergipe state said in a statement.

"It seems to me that the extreme measure of imprisonment was hurried," Pinheiro said.
"Hurried" feels like a bit of an understatement. Still, it's good to see that the judicial system in Brazil quickly realized its mistake, even if it's worrisome that it made that mistake in the first place.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2016 @ 4:07pm

    Pro tip: when kidnapping someone (judicially or otherwise) for leverage, make sure your target actually cares about them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Arthur Moore (profile), 2 Mar 2016 @ 6:24pm

    Long term consequences

    Like the Italian case against Google execs this is going to have a long term effect.

    My bet is FB is going to move everything they can out of Brazil, and they won't be the only ones doing so.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Mar 2016 @ 5:01am

    Ahh, the old "good judge, bad judge routine".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 3 Mar 2016 @ 6:45am

    Told you I didn't quite know how things would work here but I can tell you that cases where a higher instance steps in and 'corrects' earlier overreaches are not uncommon.

    As a side note, the Brazilian MAFIAA are pushing for site blockades here using the UK, Australia and the US as shinny examples of counterfeit and piracy fighters. Sad.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Mar 2016 @ 11:28am

    Any repercussions for the idiot judge? Of course not...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 3 Mar 2016 @ 10:37pm

      Re:

      Well, if any judge is under investigation anywhere in Brazil for any crime, the idiot judge ought to be hauled in and questioned about it.

      After all, if he thinks ordering the arrest of a member of a related organization because the organization he's really after doesn't do business in Brazil and therefore has no executives to grab instead, he should be perfectly okay with it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Monday (profile), 3 Mar 2016 @ 11:33am

    Enuf already!!!

    This Brazilian Judge and John Yoo attended the same University.

    "... arresting a Facebook exec is like arresting an investor for what one of its companies does.

    "My ISP doesn't get access to who I email."

    "Hurried", Brazilian... I gotta go

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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