Brazilian Court Fines Google Yet Again Over Anonymous Orkut Message

from the seriously? dept

Brazil's laws concerning liability for online posting continue to haunt Google for no good reason. For years now, we've been hearing about lawsuits against Google in Brazil because of comments made on Orkut, Google's social networking site that (for whatever reason) is mostly popular in Brazil. Brazil doesn't seem to have a concept of safe harbors or of actually applying liability to those who actually did the actions. Instead, every time that someone does something mean on Orkut, Google gets blamed and fined.

Slashdot points us to the latest such case, an appeal of an earlier ruling against Google, where, once again, the judge found that Google should have magically stopped a supposedly defamatory message from being posted:
"By making space available on virtual networking sites, in which users can post any type of message without any checks beforehand, with offensive and injurious content, and, in many cases, of unknown origin, [Google] assumes the risk of causing damage [to other people]," judge Alvimar de Avila said.
Of course, that makes no sense. Does that mean webhosts are automatically responsible for any content that people put online? Claiming that just creating a place where people can post messages means liability for the provider creates huge chilling effects. It doesn't make sense for any internet company to operate in Brazil if it has any user-generated component at all. The liability is way too high.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    NAMELESS.ONE, Apr 28th, 2010 @ 1:20am

    id just pull out of brazil

    then you cant fine me, and have no execs there
    and put all servers elsewhere. IF they block so be it
    then you can get more stupid like france, australia and china
    by removing knolwedge

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2010 @ 1:22am

    It would have been different if Google were a Brazilian company.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2010 @ 2:36am

    So for an offline situation that would mean that in Brazil you can sue a supermarket if they have an ad board and someone puts a defamatory message on it.

    Or you can sue the local government if someone shouts something defamatory on a public square, since they made the space available and don't have any check in place to prevent anyone from shouting defamatory messages.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2010 @ 5:09am

    Re:

    you half fail. the private ad board in the supermarket, yes. the public square, no. see the difference? private and public. google controls its private space but fails to monitor it.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2010 @ 5:38am

    Re: Re:

    You fail 100%

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Michael, Apr 28th, 2010 @ 5:41am

    Re: Re:

    So if someone yells defamatory messages in a public square, it is their fault, but if you rent a private meeting hall, invite people there, and someone yells defamatory messages, it is your fault (or the person who owns the hall?).

    Is the phone company responsible if I say something defamatory over the phone?

    What you seem to be suggesting is that it is the responsibility of any company that provides a communication tool to monitor and censor the communications.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2010 @ 5:44am

    Exactly.

    If someone sprays paint the wall of your house with defamatory content against someone, it is not your fault. BUT, if you fail to clean it or paint over it in a reasonable amount of time, that means you implicitly agrees with the graffiti, and therefore should be held responsible.

    It is crazy, but it is the law.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    IOERROR, Apr 28th, 2010 @ 5:45am

    I wonder..

    I wonder if Google will pay the fines? I mean really, what could they do if Google just ignores them?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2010 @ 5:53am

    What any country can do if some company decides not to pay its taxes or fines?

    Come on, man, smart up!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    imbrucy (profile), Apr 28th, 2010 @ 6:22am

    With how popular Orkut is in Brazil, Google should just block all users from Brazil and put a message up saying it was blocked because they can't risk the liability that the government is placing on them. With it's popularity you can bet the people would cause enough uproar to get the laws changed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    chris (profile), Apr 28th, 2010 @ 6:22am

    Re: Re: Re:

    no u

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Michael Lockyear (profile), Apr 28th, 2010 @ 6:38am

    When it comes to censorship and privacy, Brazil is basically a policestate. [see for yourself: http://www.google.com/governmentrequests/ ]

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2010 @ 7:46am

    Re: Re: Re:

    you are making the mistake of confusing public comments in any form with fixed posted announcements. everything you listed is either a public space communication or a private communication between two people. there is no anonymous factor in any of your examples.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2010 @ 7:47am

    Re:

    no google could just change their system to make it less anonymous and require valid login information that can be tracked back to the user, and not allow anonymous postings. that would resolve the issue entirely.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2010 @ 9:24am

    The Brazilian government paves a road. A driver strikes and kills a pedestrian on that road. The Brazilian government provided the road, and is thus responsible for anyone who uses the road.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Apr 28th, 2010 @ 9:32am

    Re: Re:

    While at the same time trampling on the rights of their users and alienating the same while giving Brazil the justification to go after Google for other things and start in on the smaller sites.

    Your way is the easy way, but fighting this is the right way. Now we wait and see what Google chooses.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Stuart (profile), Apr 28th, 2010 @ 9:43am

    Maybe we should

    all just say.
    Fuck the Brazilian government.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Dr. Scratch-N-Sniff, Apr 28th, 2010 @ 10:39am

    The biggest issue is....

    That there remain a number of people that are easily offended by writings on the inside door of Port-a-potties.

    If people find content or comments difficult to cope with, the Brazilian Government should assist these people in findinding life-long solutions.

    Thankfully, there are a few options. For example, a person can find a new website to read that doesn't offend them. If this is not possible, another possibility is to develop strategies that will enable them to cope with offensive remarks that occur all the time in real life. However, for this to be fruitful, they should seek assistance from a professional that is well versed in the field of psychiatry. I am assuming these professionals are available in Brazil. It may be wise for Brazil to consider similar medical policy for it's inhabitants. Take the US example as a model: Medicaid, a program available to the poorest of US citizens, covers a majority portion of the costs involved to receive professional insight and assistance.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    slander (profile), Apr 28th, 2010 @ 12:15pm

    Call me a conspiracy theorist...

    I'd lay solid money that it's someone in the the Brazilian government that's posting the defamatory messages, just to set this up...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2010 @ 10:19pm

    Worth noting that the Brazilian constitution explicitly forbids anonymity and Brazilians only engage in selective enforcement of the law, since most of the people already lost respect for it and they can't go after everybody.

    Knowing that the case against Google being a political move is not that absurd.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Marcelo Negrini, May 3rd, 2010 @ 5:10pm

    Re:

    Don't judge the country for some stupid first instance judges that want to appear in the media. Google is doing perfectly fine in Brazil and they can invalidate that kind of ruling overnight. This fad is going away. Less and less judges do that in Brazil.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Marcelo Negrini, May 3rd, 2010 @ 5:14pm

    Re:

    You are reading newspapers from 20 years ago, buddy. That generalized disregard for the law is something from the 80s. Post-Bush America has more crooks than contemporary Brazil.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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