Brazil’s strict rulings on social media once again came into play on Tuesday after Vice President of Facebook for Latin America, Diego Dzodan, was arrested for failing to reveal information that the company had acquired via mobile application WhatsApp.
The app, owned by Facebook since 2014, was previously blocked for 48 hours by a São Paulo state judge last year after allegations that the authorities needed to access an account after a WhatsApp user was under investigation.
The imposed block, which affected millions of users, was soon overturned by an appeals court.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, was “stupefied” by the decision, calling it a “sad day for Brazil.”
All WhatsApp messages sent between Android devices are encrypted. Facebook has maintained that the company does not store messages, making it impossible to comply with a court order that the firm was harboring information related to an ongoing drug trafficking case.
Argentine Dzodan lives in São Paulo’s luxurious Itami-Bibi neighborhood, where he was arrested on his way to work.
Yet some 24 hours later, on Wednesday morning, the Facebook VP was released.
“Diego’s imprisonment was an extreme and disproportionate measure and we are relieved that the Sergipe tribunal has issued an order for his release,” a Facebook spokesperson commented.
“Detaining a person with no relation to the ongoing investigation is an arbitrary measure and we are worried about the effects of this decision for people related to innovation in Brazil.”
The ongoing investigation in Sergipe attempted to slap a hefty 50,000 real fine on the firm (around $12,500) two months ago. As the company failed to pay out, the total was then increased to a daily total of one million real (some $250,000).