Facebook Executive Released from Jail in Brazil

A Facebook executive detained for refusing to give law enforcement information about users of the WhatsApp message service was released from jail on Wednesday, part of a tussle between authorities and technology companies that recalls the U.S. dispute between Apple and the FBI.

Facebook's most senior representative in Latin America, Diego Dzodan, left a jail in Sao Paulo after one night in custody. A judge ruled he was wrongly detained because he was not named personally in the legal proceedings.

Another judge in the northeastern state of Sergipe had issued an arrest warrant accusing Dzodan of repeatedly failing to comply with a judicial order to cooperate with an investigation into drug trafficking and organized crime. Monica Horta, a spokeswoman for the federal police in Sergipe, said investigators have requested content from a WhatsApp messaging group as well as other data, including geo-location.

Investigators first contacted WhatsApp -- which was bought by Facebook in 2014 -- about four months ago but have yet to receive a response, Horta said. Starting two months ago, WhatsApp began to incur a daily fine of 50,000 Brazilian reais ($12,700) for every day it ignored the order. The company has not yet paid the fine, which has risen to 1 million Brazilian reais ($250,000) in recent weeks, she said.

Brazilian police argue that Facebook's stance is at odds with those of Yahoo, Google and local telecommunications companies, which have been willing to hand over user information to help investigations.

WhatsApp has been rolling out a so-called end-to-end encryption system under which only the sender and recipient can access the content of messages and it insists it doesn't have the information requested.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the company said, "arresting people with no connection to pending law enforcement investigation is a capricious step and we are concerned about the effects for...

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