Last week, a Brazilian judge imprisoned a Facebook executive because of “repeated non-compliance with court orders.” The executive, Diego Dzodan, was arrested because he refused to provide WhatsApp messages to the police for aiding them with a drug-related investigation. Since WhatpsApp implements end-to-end encryption, Facebook did not have access to these messages, making it impossible for them to comply with the request.
Facebook called the arrest an “extreme, disproportionate measure.” The executive was released the day after bring imprisoned.
This isn’t the first time Brazil has cracked down on encrypted messaging. In December 2015, they shut down WhatsApp entirely, again because the platform didn’t comply with a court order to provide messages in a criminal investigation. In the wake of this, in February, Brazil increased fines for not complying with government “data handover orders,” placing the total fines at $250,000.
Brazil is a country that has, for the most part, enjoyed an open Internet experience. It’s concerning they have attempted censorship and taken action to attempt to receive access to encrypted messages several times recently, and definitely not a positive trend. Further, this latest issue draws some parallels to the encryption battle that’s been going on between Apple and the United States Government, showing how widespread issues of encryption are.
Sources: Ars Technica