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Brazil police arrest Facebook executive over drugs probe into Wh

  • Author:Max Lin
  • Release on:2016-12-29

Brazilian police have arrested Facebook’s vice-president for Latin America after claims the social network refused to co-operate with an investigation into drug trafficking, marking a fresh tussle between US technology groups and law enforcement agencies.

The executive, Diego Dzodan, is being held in São Paulo for questioning after Facebook did not obey judicial orders to show police WhatsApp messages between suspected drug traffickers in the state of Sergipe, the state court said.

Facebook and WhatsApp reacted with dismay, saying the messaging service does not store users’ messages nor has the ability to intercept messages.

Silicon Valley companies are involved in clashes with legislators from Washington to West-minster over data security and users’ privacy.

The arrest came hours before a showdown between Apple and the FBI at a congressional hearing in Washington. That follows the order by a California judge last month that the iPhone maker help investigators unblock the mobile phone of one of the killers in December’s San Bernardino shooting. Facebook is among a group of tech companies expected to file a brief in support of Apple in that case this week.

According to the Brazilian police, the WhatsApp messages are indispensable as “proof in an investigation into drug trafficking”. Facebook, which bought the messaging application in 2014, was fined R$50,000 ($12,658) after it first ref-used the request. The fine was raised to R$1m, to no avail, the court said.

Facebook was disappointed “with the extreme and disproportionate measure of having a Facebook executive escorted to a police station in connection with [a] case involving WhatsApp, which operates separately from Facebook”.

Amit Yoran, president of RSA Security, said as he opened the company’s cyber security conference in San Francisco that plans from law enforcement agencies to weaken encryption were “so misguided as to boggle the mind”.

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