Facebook Executive Detained by Brazil Police on Court Order

  • Court seeks company information linked to drug-traffic case
  • Move follows court block of WhatsApp in similar circumstances

Brazil’s federal police detained a Facebook Inc. executive Tuesday for failing to cooperate with judicial orders related to information on the company’s website in an investigation of drug trafficking.

A judge in Sergipe ordered the detention of Diego Dzodan, vice president of Latin America at Facebook and Instagram, according to a person familiar with the matter who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, after the social media company repeatedly failed to comply with a court order. The executive remains in custody and is responding to police questioning in Sao Paulo, according to a police statement.

“We are 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,” Facebook said in an e-mailed response to questions. "Facebook has always been and will be available to address any questions Brazilian authorities may have," the company said in the statement.

In December, a Brazilian court blocked Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging service temporarily after it refused to turn over the content of communications between alleged drug dealers involved in a criminal case. The outage affected more than 100 million local users and elicited outrage on social media.

Facebook’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said at the time that he was stunned by the “extreme decision by a single judge to punish every person in Brazil who uses WhatsApp.”

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