This may be a preview of things to come here. The Brazilian government is a bit peeved that it is unable to bypass WhatsApp’s encryption. Furthermore, it has been unable to convince Facebook, the owner of WhatsApp, to include a backdoor in the software. In what appears to be an act of retaliation the government has decided to harass Facebook by kidnapping one of its employees:
The arrest was made at the request of officials from the state of Sergipe, in Brazil’s north-east. In a statement, the federal police said Facebook/WhatsApp had repeatedly failed to comply with court orders relating to an organized crime and drug-trafficking investigation.
WhatsApp said in a statement that it was disappointed at the arrest and is unable to provide information it does not have, due to the architecture of its service. “We cooperated to the full extent of our ability in this case and while we respect the important job of law enforcement, we strongly disagree with its decision,” the unit said.
I wish companies would stop including all the nonsense about understanding the important job of law enforcement. Enforcing laws isn’t important. Providing justice to victims is important but that’s not what law enforcers primarily do.
What makes this kidnapping even weirder is that WhatsApp is apparently a separate operational entity from Facebook so the Brazilian government didn’t even kidnap a person who is in any way responsible for the app:
Facebook issued a distinct statement, noting that WhatsApp is operationally separate from the mothership, making the arrest of a Facebook exec “extreme and disproportionate.”
This is what it looks like when a government throws a temper tantrum. Hopefully the Brazilian government will release the poor schmuck it kidnapped. Although it wouldn’t surprise me (OK, it would surprise me a little bit) if it decided to threaten to kill him if Facebook didn’t give in to its demands. Either way, if I were Facebook I’d strongly consider moving all operations out of Brazil. Operating in that country has obviously become a liability.