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Brazil frees Facebook exec arrested over WhatsApp dispute

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Just a few months after WhatsApp got shut down in Brazil for not complying with court orders, the app has landed in trouble with authorities once again for not following their decrees. This time round, the country has gone one step further and actually thrown Facebook’s Vice President for Latin America Diego Dzodanin in jail.

His ordeal didn’t last long though, since a judge has now ordered for his immediate release a day after his arrest. Dzodanin was accused of repeated non-compliance with court orders to share Facebook data. The federal police were apparently seeking WhatsApp messages as evidence in connection with an organized crime and drug trafficking investigation they were conducting.

WhatsApp did not cooperate with their request since the app uses end-to-end encryption for its messages, meaning even parent company Facebook does not have a copy of texts which get exchanged. This did not fly with the Brazilian police, who demanded a daily fine of roughly $12500 two months ago. The figure grew to $250000 a month after.

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Matters came to a head when a lower court judge ordered Dzodanin be taken into custody. Facebook responded to the detainment by expressing its disappointment that such an extreme and disproportionate measure was taken. WhatsApp gave out a similar statement, adding that it cannot provide information which it doesn’t have.

Ruy Pinheiro, the judge who ordered Dzodanin’s liberation, seems to agree with the above sentiments, stating that he considered the arrest unlawful coercion. According to AFP (via Ars Technica), he went on to say that the extreme measure of imprisonment was hurried. It remains to be seen how the case will unfold now.