Week in Review: March 2, 2016

by Muira McCammon

Brazil: Judge Orders Release of Facebook Executive

A judge in Sergipe, Brazil ordered the release of Facebook Executive Diego Dzodan; he had been detained on Tuesday, March 1 after a court order permitted local police to hold him for questioning. “Diego’s detention was an extreme, disproportionate measure, and we are pleased to see the court in Sergipe issue an injunction ordering his release,” a Facebook spokesman told  Fortune magazine.  He added, “Arresting people with no connection to a pending law enforcement investigation is a capricious step and we are concerned about the effects for people of Brazil and innovation in the country.” Agence France Presse originally reported that Dzodan had been detained for “repeated non-compliance with court orders.” A number of Portuguese newspaper articles alleged that Dzodan had been arrested for refusing to provide Brazilian authorities with help de-encrypting certain WhatsApp messages related to an ongoing drug case. (Facebook is the parent company of WhatsApp and authorities in Sergipe are said to have wanted Dzodan’s help in obtaining WhatsApp data, not any specific material related to his own personal Facebook and/or WhatsApp accounts.)  

Egypt: Nokia Networks & Hacking Team Accused of Selling Surveillance Equipment to Egyptian Intelligence Agency
Privacy International has published a new investigative report entitled "The President's Men?" alleging that Nokia Networks and Hacking Team are responsible for supplying an Egyptian intelligence agency with surveillance equipment. The report specifically alleges that Nokia Networks, when it was previously linked to Siemens, sold surveillance technologies to the Technical Research Department (TRD), which is suspected to be a subsection of the Egyptian General Intelligence Service. Privacy International stated that its purpose in writing the report was to reveal the existence of the TRD to lawmakers, specifically those in the European Union, who might be able to prevent the export of additional monitoring technologies to countries like Egypt. In response to the accusations, Nokia released the following statement: "Nokia strongly condemns the allegations made about the company in the report on Egypt by Privacy International (PI) on Wednesday. We are especially disappointed because these allegations, which are largely unsourced, could have been easily avoided if PI had simply responded to our attempts to discuss the matter or analysed the response we sent them."

France: Government Asks Parents to Not Post Photos of Kids on Social Media
In a Facebook post on February 23, 2016, the French police asked parents to consider not posting photos of their children on social media platforms [FR]. Amar Toor of The Verge translated part of the post: “You can all be proud moms and dads to your magnificent children, but be careful. […] We remind you that posting photos of your kids to Facebook is not without danger!” French government officials and privacy experts have previously shared concerns that publicly shared images of children can attract sexual predators. One French expert went so far as to suggest that parents could face future lawsuits from their children for violating their privacy as minors. One French Internet law specialist, Éric Delcroix suggested [FR] that it’s very unlikely photos shared today online could result in lawsuits years from now.

Japan: Court Cites “Right to Be Forgotten” in Controversial Case 
Journalists recently revealed a court decision that was made in December 2015 in Japan. It was one of the first rulings in Japan to openly cite the Right to Be Forgotten. The court ordered Google to remove news reports regarding the arrest of a man who had acquired a criminal record. In an interview, Judge Hisaki Kobayashi said, “Criminals who were exposed to the public due to media reports of their arrest are entitled to the benefit of having their private life respected and their rehabilitation unhindered.” At the time of writing, the man’s criminal record no longer appears in Japanese search results, but Google is still appealing the ruling in a higher court. 

USA: Former Google CEO Schmidt to Head New Pentagon Innovation Board
On Wednesday, March 2, 2016, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, had agreed to chair a new Pentagon advisory board. Schmidt is currently the executive chairman of Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google. In a press release, the Pentagon explained the purpose of the new board: “Just as the Defense Business Board provides advice to the department on best business practices from the private sector, the Defense Innovation Advisory Board will provide advice on the best and latest practices in innovation that the department can emulate." It is anticipated that eleven other people will be appointed to the Defense Innovation Advisory Board in the next few months.