A Brazilian judge has ordered the release of a Facebook executive one day after he was jailed in São Paulo for “repeated non-compliance with court orders,” according to the Agence France Presse. Facebook spokesman Matt Steinfeld confirmed to Ars that executive Diego Dzodan has indeed been released.
Dzodan was arrested (Portuguese) after apparently refusing to provide WhatsApp messages that the Brazilian police sought in connection with a drug case.
Since late 2014, all WhatsApp messages sent between Android devices are end-to-end encrypted, which means that not even parent company Facebook can access their plaintext contents. (WhatsApp messges that involve an iOS device are not end-to-end encrypted.)Judge Ruy Pinheiro described Dzodan’s detention as “unlawful coercion,” according to the AFP.
Dzodan’s arrest came after Brazilian courts last month increased fines to $250,000 per day (Portuguese) for not complying with the government’s data handover order. When Facebook would still not budge, Dzodan was arrested.
In 2014, WhatsApp upgraded its security after partnering with Open Whisper Systems, a company founded by well-known security researcher Moxie Marlinspike, who is the creator of Signal.
During fiscal year 2014, Open Whisper Systems received $900,000 from the Open Technology Fund, an umbrella group whose primary funder is the United States government.
The funding came primarily through the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the Department of State.
Facebook called Dzodan’s arrest “an extreme, disproportionate measure.”
“Arresting people with no connection to a pending law enforcement investigation is a capricious step and we are concerned about the effects for people of Brazil and innovation in the country,” Steinfield told Ars. “We remain willing to address questions Brazilian authorities may have.”