UPDATE 3-Facebook exec jailed in Brazil as court seeks WhatsApp data

martes 1 de marzo de 2016 18:37 GYT

(Adds quotes from legal experts, details of case, precedents)

By Brad Haynes

SAO PAULO, March 1 (Reuters) - Brazilian police arrested a senior Facebook Inc executive on Tuesday as a dispute escalated over a court's demand that the company provide data from its WhatsApp messaging service to help in a secretive drug-trafficking investigation.

Court officials in Sergipe state confirmed that a judge had ordered the jailing of Facebook Vice President for Latin America Diego Dzodan. Federal police in Sao Paulo state said he was being held there for questioning.

Law enforcement officials withheld further information about the nature of their request to the messaging service that Facebook Inc acquired in 2014, saying that doing so could compromise an ongoing criminal investigation.

The arrest, which Facebook called an "extreme and disproportionate measure," came as social media and Internet companies face mounting pressure from governments around the world to help them eavesdrop on users and filter content.

Arrests of officials from social media companies are extremely rare, though not unprecedented, because the companies typically comply with local court orders, especially from countries where they have branch offices.

"Precisely because these large global Internet companies have staff in many countries who are vulnerable to legal action including arrest and criminal charges, they generally do comply with legally binding requests from authorities for user data or to remove or block content in those countries where they have 'boots on the ground,'" said Internet freedom activist Rebecca MacKinnon.

Prior to its acquisition by Facebook, California-based WhatsApp had less skin in the game in disputes with governments outside the United States because, unlike Facebook, it did not have staff scattered around the globe.   Continuación...