Brazil Frees Facebook Exec Arrested Over WhatsApp User Data Probe | NECN

Brazil Frees Facebook Exec Arrested Over WhatsApp User Data Probe



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    In this file photo, the Facebook and WhatsApp app icons are displayed on an iPhone on February 19, 2014 in San Francisco City.

    Brazilian police have released a Facebook executive who was arrested for ignoring a court's demand that the company provide data from its WhatsApp messaging service to help in a drug-trafficking investigation.

    Diego Dzodan, Facebook's vice president for Latin America, was released Wednesday, a police spokeswoman confirmed to The Associated Press.

    Dzodan was arrested at São Paulo Guarulhos International Airport Tuesday on a warrant issued by a judge in the northeastern state of Sergipe.

    The warrant says Dzodan repeatedly failed to comply with a judicial order to cooperate with an investigation into drug trafficking and organized crime. According to the complaint, the company had ignored requests to surrender user information from the WhatsApp messaging service, an application bought by Facebook in 2014.

    When Facebook refused to comply, Brazilian authorities imposed fines, starting with 50,000 reais (about USD 12,500) daily beginning two months ago, and which rose to 1 million reais (USD 250,000) a month ago, Sergipe federal police told Brazil's Istoé.

    WhatsApp expressed disappointment with the decision on Tuesday. It said in a statement that it was "unable to provide information we do not have."

    The instant messaging service began using end-to-end encryption technology in 2014 that prevents the company from monitoring messages that travel across its network.

    "They are using technology to try to take themselves out of the surveillance business," said Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist with the American Civil Liberties Union.

    The arrest comes amid another security battle as Apple and the U.S. government are embroiled in their own dispute over a refusal to cooperate with the FBI in unlocking an iPhone used by one of the shooters in a mass killing by a couple in San Bernardino, California, last year.

    The Associate Press contributed to this story.