Facebook Latin America’s vice president, Diego Dzodan, was arrested by Brazilian police in São Paolo on Tuesday morning after repeatedly refusing to provide criminal investigators with users’ data for the last two months. He was released yesterday after 24 hours of police detention.
Dzodan, who is an Argentine national, had been asked on several occasions to comply with court orders demanding access to the WhatsApp messaging conversations of criminal suspects.
Facebook, which also owns Instagram, bought the WhatsApp application in October 2014 for $22 billion dollars and it is now the third time that Brazilian judges conflict with the company with regards to gaining access to private information that Facebook commits to protect. Last time this happened, the entire country was punished by having its WhatsApp messaging privileges suspended for a day.
According to the BBC, Marcel Maia Montalvao, the judge from northern Sergipe state who ordered the arrest, justified his decision arguing that authorities needed the information for “secret judicial investigations involving organized crime and drug trafficking.”
The judge’s decision was overturned 24 hours after Dzodan’s arrest from fear that the disputed court order would have compromising consequences on the ongoing confidential investigation.
What’s more, WhatsApp installed end-to-end encryption shortly after being purchased by Facebook in 2014. What is that? A system whereby nobody other than those communicating can read messages. Not even internet providers, nor the companies that runs the messaging service, apparently. Does that mean Dzodan and his team could have provided the requested information if they wanted to? We are few geeks short of being able to answer that but the question remains a pertinent piece of this evolving situation.
Building off this idea of accountability, Dzodan appears to be in charge of Facebook and Instagram, not Whatsapp. Leading many to question whether Brazilian authorities had just arrested the wrong man.
Facebook released a statement saying that it was “disappointed with the extreme and disproportionate measure” of the arrest.