A view of the entrance of the Provisional Detention Centre Pinheiros in Sao Paulo where Facebook executive Diego Dzodan was detained. (Paulo Whitaker/Reuters)
Brazil releases Facebook executive

A senior executive of Facebook was released from detention in Brazil on Wednesday even as authorities moved ahead with an investigation over access to a popular messaging service.

Diego Dzodan was taken into custody Tuesday in São Paulo after the Facebook subsidiary WhatsApp told Brazilian authorities that it was unable to intercept instant messages in connection with a drug-trafficking probe. Dzodan, Facebook’s vice president for Latin America, was detained on an order from a Brazilian judge, said WhatsApp spokesman Matt Steinfeld.

But a higher court ruled that Dzodan could be freed while the legal process against Facebook continues.

Steinfeld said the company’s platform is not built for wiretaps. WhatsApp, which operates as a separate entity and is based in California, does not have an office in Brazil or store messages on its servers. It encrypts them when they are in transit between users.

“WhatsApp cannot provide information we do not have,” he said.

Facebook said in a statement that it is “disappointed with the extreme and disproportionate measure of having a Facebook executive escorted to a police station in connection with a case involving WhatsApp, which operates separately from Facebook.”

— Dom Phillips

U.S. meets goal for female-owned firms

In the most recent fiscal year, 5.05 percent of small-business-eligible federal contract work went to companies owned by women.

That is a small percentage, but it is the first time the government has met the 5 percent target set for it by Congress more than two decades ago. The U.S. Small Business Administration announced the news at a Wednesday news conference headlined by White House aide Valerie Jarrett.

“This has been long-fought and took a lot of effort to put together,” said John Shoraka, the SBA’s associate administrator for government contracting and business development.

The agency’s efforts to steer more contract money toward businesses owned by women were stepped up in 2011 with a program allowing government contract officers to set aside contracts specifically for female-owned small businesses. An amendment in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act removed caps on contract funds going to such small businesses, effectively expanding what counts as a small contractor. And more changes are coming: A regulation taking effect Thursday will expand the number of industries in which these contract set-asides are allowed.

The federal government also narrowly surpassed the small-business contracting goal set by the SBA for at least 23 percent of contracts eligible for small businesses (as well as large businesses) to go to small businesses.

— Aaron Gregg

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