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Brazil orders release of Facebook executive arrested in WhatsApp dispute

Brazil orders release of Facebook executive arrested in WhatsApp dispute

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Brazil is set to release Facebook's vice president for Latin America from police detention, following a court order calling his arrest "unlawful coercion," according to AFP. Facebook executive Diego Dzodan was arrested in Brazil yesterday after the company failed, for about two months, to hand over WhatsApp messages related to a drug investigation. A court had reportedly ordered Facebook to comply with the request, but it's likely that Facebook is unable to do so. WhatsApp encrypts its messages by default, which would prevent Facebook from reading their contents and mean that it has nothing to hand over. WhatsApp suggests as much, tells the AFP, "WhatsApp cannot provide information we do not have."

Facebook called the arrest an "extreme and disproportionate measure" yesterday, saying it had made itself available to answer questions from Brazilian authorities. A higher judge in the country appears to have agreed, writing in a statement, "It seems to me that the extreme measure of imprisonment was hurried." It's not clear where the issue goes from here. Facebook will either have to convince authorities that it cannot comply with the order, or else possibly face additional actions. It's already reported that Brazil has been fining it larger and large amounts over the past two months. Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.