Facebook and Twitter have been cooperating with investigators by providing them information about suspects’ use of their platforms, said the judge supervising the probe that led to the arrest of suspected Islamist militants in Brazil. According to the authorities, suspects who are sympathetic to ISIS discussed attacking the Olympics in Rio, according to Fortune.
Facebook, Twitter helped to avert a potential attack
Cooperation by both social networking sites after a judicial order related to the investigation was instrumental to understanding the nature of discussions carried out by the suspects, said Judge Marcos Josegrei da Silva late Sunday in an interview with Fantastico (a weekly news program on the Globo television network). Late Sunday, the twelfth suspect was detained by police.
The judge said in the Fantastico interview that “there is no anonymity for those sorts of activities on the Internet.” He did not provide any more details but said Facebook and Twitter provided data related to the content of the conversations and about where those conversations were posted. Spokesmen from both social media firms refused to comment on specifics of the case.
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However, both said that their respective companies have zero tolerance for activities related to terrorism and other crimes. They also noted that they would continue to cooperate with law enforcement whenever necessary.
Rising concerns about privacy
On Sunday night, Brazil’s federal police announced that they had arrested the twelfth suspect targeted by the investigation. The suspect was detained in the west-central state of Mato Grosso, and he will be questioned and transported to a federal penitentiary, just like the other suspects already in custody.
The suspects in the ongoing probe code-named “Operation Hashtag” are sympathetic to the Islamic State militant group, said Brazilian investigators. They added that these suspects had discussed attacking the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, which begin August 5, through messaging services.
The comment of the judge about cooperation by the social networking sites comes amid the growing debate about privacy issues and law enforcement in Brazil and other countries around the world. For instance, in an effort to get the social media platform to hand over content for investigations, Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging service has been temporarily shut down on several occasions by Brazilian judges, (most recently last week).
In comparison to Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms where content is openly shared with other users, data sent by WhatsApp and other similar messaging services is encrypted.