UPDATED 3/3: A Facebook executive in Brazil, arrested for repeatedly failing to comply with a court order demanding access to WhatsApp data relating to a criminal investigation, was released after nearly 24 hours.
The current case could be related to another court case over which WhatsApp was temporarily banned in Brazil last year, involving a drug trafficker linked to a Sao Paulo criminal gang who allegedly used the messaging app.
According to Bloomberg, a judge in the state of Sergpipe ordered the arrest of Diego Dzodan, vice president of Latin America at Facebook and Instagram.
“Diego’s detention was an extreme, disproportionate measure, and we are pleased to see the court in Sergipe issue an injunction ordering his release,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters.
Previoulsy, the company had said it was “disappointed” that a Facebook executive was arrested “in connection with a case involving WhatsApp, which operates separately from Facebook”.
“Facebook has always been and will be available to address any questions Brazilian authorities may have,” it had said.
Back in December, a Brazilian judge told operators to block WhatsApp for 48 hours, in relation to the same case.
At the time, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, said he was “stunned that our efforts to protect people’s data would result in such an extreme decision by a single judge to punish every person in Brazil who uses WhatsApp”.
He said more than 100 million people rely on WhatsApp in Brazil and that until now, the country had been an ally in creating an open internet.
The report also says that according to Brazilian law, judges can request the release of confidential information if they believe it contributed to criminal acts, and can take measures to force companies to release the data.
Last year, Brazilian police showed up at the apartment of a top Microsoft executive, insisting he present himself before a court, because the company did not turn in Skype data involving a Brazilian customer who was being investigated.