Brazilian Government Ordering Web Hosting Firms To Kill Domain Names They Don't Like

from the say-what-now? dept

A lawyer I know passed along a letter from the Brazilian government to Sedo, a company that helps sell domains and also hosts parked domains (on which it puts some advertising), demanding that it take down a domain that it did not like. The text of the email is included below, but there are plenty of troubling things about the demand. First, the URL in question was an .eu domain, meaning that I can't see how the Brazilian government has any authority whatsoever. The URL did, however, suggest that it involved porn content related to Brazil (in that it has the word Brazil in it, as well as another word/phrase suggesting porn). Brazil could not like the fact that people have registered domains about Brazilian pornography, but I don't see how that gives the country any authority whatsoever to demand the domain be taken offline completely. And, yet, according to the letter:
The registration and use of this domain name may lead users to believe that Brazil is a tourist attraction and pole of sexual activities, which interferes on the position and image of the country.

Moreover, websites with pornographic contents on the Internet that makes direct and/or indirectly mention to the characteristics related with the Brazilian identity, such as colors of the flag, culture pictures and images of cities, sets as a crime, punishable by the Brazilian Penal Code, Federal Law n. 9.279/1996:
The letter goes on to talk about child porn and how heinous it is -- but nothing in the domain, in any way, suggests child porn. It could pretty clearly be used for a legitimate adult porn website, but not child pornography. But the Brazilian government is having nothing of it, demanding that it be taken down:
Through this letter, the Ministry of Tourism of Brazil requests that you provide a written assurance within the next seven (7) days that you will:

1. Immediately discontinue any and all use of the domain(s)

2. Immediately and permanently refrain from any use of the term that associates Brazil to the pornography on the Internet;

3. Remove any and all pornographic content or dissociate it with the Brazilian Identity or Brazil.
This seems like a pretty big overreach by the Brazilian government on an issue that it has absolutely no jurisdiction over. Sedo did take down the site, but upon being contacted agreed to put it back up. I spoke to Jeremiah Johnston at Sedo who explained the company's policy on these issues -- noting that dealing with multiple geographies makes this quite a challenge, because they have to judge both legal and business issues in determining how to respond, and the company strives to be as transparent as possible. In the end, it uses a kind of notice-and-takedown system, as it did here, where it agrees to take down the domain, but alerts the domain holders and reviews the situation if people complain (as happened here). The Brazilian request was apparently a rather large request hitting on a bunch of different domain names, many of which were not .br domains, but some of which implied activity that was illegal -- and so Sedo had no problem taking those down. The issue here was that this domain got swept up in that effort. I still tend to think that the general request from Brazil was a pretty broad overreach itself, and worry about going after domain names simply for being domain names. The content on those sites may be a different issue, but in this case we were talking about domains for sale and/or parked domains, so it's not clear how much of a complaint Brazil really had.
To Whom it May Concern:

The Brazilian Federal Government, through the Ministry of Tourism, has found that the domain(s):

(DOMAIN NAMES INTENTIONALLY OMITTED)

relates pornography with Brazil or characteristics associated with the Brazilian Identity on its domain name(s).

The registration and use of this domain name may lead users to believe that Brazil is a tourist attraction and pole of sexual activities, which interferes on the position and image of the country.

Moreover, websites with pornographic contents on the Internet that makes direct and/or indirectly mention to the characteristics related with the Brazilian identity, such as colors of the flag, culture pictures and images of cities, sets as a crime, punishable by the Brazilian Penal Code, Federal Law n. 9.279/1996:

Art. 191. Reproducing or imitating, in whole or in part and in a way that may induce to error or confusion, coats of arms, escutcheons, or national, foreign or international official badges, without the necessary authorization, in a mark, title of establishment, trade name, insignia or advertising sign, or using such reproductions or imitations for economic purposes.

It should be noticed that any action done with the purpose of prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation involving children and/or adolescents is a heinous crime and its punishment is more stringent under the Brazilian Penal Code (Código Penal Brasileiro). Moreover, this practice is also provided in our Statute of Children and Adolescents (Estatuto da Criança e do Adolescente), which seeks, among other determinations, establish that is the duty of all prevent the occurrence of threat or violation of rights of children and adolescents (article 70).

Through this letter, the Ministry of Tourism of Brazil requests that you provide a written assurance within the next seven (7) days that you will:

1. Immediately discontinue any and all use of the domain(s)

2. Immediately and permanently refrain from any use of the term that associates Brazil to the pornography on the Internet;

3. Remove any and all pornographic content or dissociate it with the Brazilian Identity or Brazil.

We await your response within the period mentioned above and we are at disposal for further information on this subject through the address listed on the signature of this message.

Best Regards,

MINISTRY OF TOURISM OF BRAZIL


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Kevin H (profile), Feb 8th, 2012 @ 2:36pm

    " Immediately and permanently refrain from any use of the term that associates Brazil to the pornography on the Internet; "

    There goes my whole reason for going to Brazil. I didn't think of it as porn per say.... More like study clips for a future visit.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 2:44pm

    get with the program mike.

    The United States requests that URL's be seized all the time. There are states in the United States that try and have certain URLs removed based on state policies. Is it really a surprise that a Country is requesting that some one remove something that they find "offensive" in the way it "portrays them" or what the feel it insinuates.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 2:50pm

    Re: get with the program mike.

    still better than removing it using drones

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 3:31pm

    Why can't I see the domain names? At least the unregistered ones would be nice. I want to see how far they are reaching also I kind of want to buy one and cover it will pictures of their flag and their capital, except ill replace most of the buildings with penises.

     

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  5.  
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    Pixelation, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 3:34pm

    There goes being able to find a Brazilian wax online.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 3:44pm

    Re: get with the program mike.

    Just because someone else is doing something does make it moral or legal.

     

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  7.  
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    A Guy (profile), Feb 8th, 2012 @ 3:44pm

    I guess Sedo better make sure they don't have any assets in Brazil. It's unfortunate that Brazil is taking steps to drive business overseas, but maybe those resources will be used here in the United States where we have a strong first amendment and welcome new business to help our economy.

    Oh wait...

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 3:49pm

    Re: Re: get with the program mike.

    I know, i was trollin foo

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 4:45pm

    Wait, the country responsible for bringing 2 Girls, 1 Cup to the world doesn't want to be associated with pr0n?

     

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  10.  
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    Gracey (profile), Feb 8th, 2012 @ 5:13pm

    The colours of the flag ... that is probably further reaching than just about any other of the requests they made.

    I mean really ... shall someone register a domain with the colours of the flag, and then perhaps associate it with porn? I don't see how mentioning a flag with those particular colours is going to automatically be associated with Brazil.

    Maybe they actually meant the flag design, as opposed to the colours?

     

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  11.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Feb 8th, 2012 @ 5:28pm

    Heh

    ...and pole of sexual activities...

    Heh. HehHehHeh. /Beavis

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 5:43pm

    I'm sorry, but the Brazilian porn IS the only reason that anyone gives a damn about Brazil.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 5:52pm

    I beleive most of Hitler's officer's accused of war crimes hid out in Brazil. Interesting?

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 5:54pm

    DID Brazil sign ACTA?

     

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  15.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Feb 8th, 2012 @ 6:02pm

    Re:

    DID Brazil sign ACTA?


    No. Brazil was not a part of ACTA. And, actually, Brazil has been a leading voice fighting against ACTA.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 7:10pm

    Without the domain names, it's pretty hard to pass judgement.

    Example, brazilhookertourism.eu might be something they would go after. But without any examples, we have no idea of anything right or wrong. Actually excluding the names makes me think something is being hidden. Why?

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 7:11pm

    Brazil was a dictatorship until very recently is no wonder that they have problems with a free society yet, proof of that is that they are the number one country to issue takedowns in the world they try to remove anything and everything they don't like.

    The Brazilian government is not an open one, never was and have a long road to go to be called a freedom loving country.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 7:29pm

    Re:

    Maybe Brazil has copyrighted and trademarked their name (like a brand), flag design and green, yellow and blue design.

    That might pay better than raising taxes.

    It's also going to make a lot of school kids happy when it comes to giving their report on some South American country that they can't name or show pictures of.

    Of course newscasters will have to say, " and breaking news today in that country in S. America - the one on the Pacific Coast, not the one with Machu Piccu (assuming they all follow suit). But the other big one, with Rio in it ...heck, just look at the map ...."

    At some point in time the world maybe divided up by corporations; South Haliburton and North Haliburton. West Exxon and Middle Exxon. There would probably be a whole lot less wars.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 7:31pm

    Re:

    Good music too.

     

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  20.  
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    Josh (profile), Feb 8th, 2012 @ 10:00pm

    "The registration and use of this domain name may lead users to believe that Brazil is a tourist attraction and pole of sexual activities"

    Wait, you mean it isn't?

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 12:59am

    Re:

    Are you the Waxer character from the first episode of 21Jumpstreet?

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 1:00am

    Re:

    That is not so bad how about the new constitution that says it is illegal to be anonymous.

     

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  23.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 3:03am

    Re:

    Actually excluding the names makes me think something is being hidden. Why?

    Because the domain holder in question did not want the information out there about the specific domain.

    I have seen it however, and can assure you that nothing in the domain suggested anything to do with prostitution.

     

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  24.  
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    Don, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 4:27am

    beaches, bikinis and monkeys

    When i think of Brazil i think of hot girls, tiny bikinis and monkeys swinging from light pole to light pole in Sau Paulo. And i don't see the tourism office trying to dispell that.

     

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  25.  
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    ashley sheridan, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 5:44am

    It's obvious that it's actually about Brazilian flatulence porn (something which I was blissfully ignorant of until I was told)

    Or, could it be that the two "stars" of a certain clip involving a cup and a couple of girls were from Brazil? I can quite understand how no country would ever want to be associated with that.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 8:55am

    Domain Name Takedowns

    "The Brazilian request was apparently a rather large request hitting on a bunch of different domain names, many of which were not .br domains, but some of which implied activity that was illegal -- and so Sedo had no problem taking those down."

    Rather like most of the domains DHS has shut down without due process? Isn't the problem here that the government is ordering permanent takedowns without first proving their claim that the domains are illegal?

    Do any of the domains belong to foreign registrants? If the United States were doing this, I think you'd be complaining more loudly. Can you imagine the chaos if all countries started shutting down domains they don't like?

     

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  27.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 8:58am

    Re: Re:

    Unfortunately, Moral Police is everywhere, including my country. I'd say some fundamentalist Christians in the Govt felt it was offensive or something.

    I hope it's not frequent to see such demands and overreach from the Brazilian Govt, I'd be worried.

    Some1 mentioned the flag up there. It's forbidden by law here to use the flag in anyway that's not... well, a flag. No towels, bikinis, underwear, patriotic condoms or whatsoever. I find it an exaggeration. But maybe that's where the flag colors or whatever happened came into the issue.

     

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  28.  
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    Angelica Costa, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 9:13am

    wonder if it was the usa

    I am not saying our ministy is right (he is surely overstepping here), but if it was the USA asking someone overseas to remove their domains would anyone be surprised?

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 12:43pm

    Re: Re:

    "on the Pacific Coast"?

     

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  30.  
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    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Feb 9th, 2012 @ 6:55pm

    Too many people in Brazil government chugging cachaca, I guess. Rots the brain eventually.

     

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  31.  
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    ssh web hosting, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 6:57pm

    This is really a big issue about companies and countries' powers and limitations to each other's activities. It is purely related to legal cases and this case should be talked about between the 2 parties in private. I believe that this executory of this case always depends on the laws of each countries. We know that we cannot easily order companies from overseas unless we have the right and laws covering the illegal activities of that company located in other country.

    The big question about this would be "How about the domain names that have already established for many years in business without problem?" "How about if they are already making hundreds of thousands of profits every month?". Web hosting firms would really have a headache about this since they could be sued for a case if their customer's domains were deleted without valid reasons.

    Regards,

    Mark Cruz

     

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  32.  
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    Mart Connor, Feb 13th, 2012 @ 4:01pm

    Deep analysis...

    Internet is being itself a huge garbage... I am surprised that Brazil is doing that, and the same should be done here. I totally agree with this letter as they are trying to clean their image related to sex tourism!

     

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  33.  
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    Luma, Feb 13th, 2012 @ 6:40pm

    Re: beaches, bikinis and monkeys

     

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  34.  
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    Mike G., Feb 14th, 2012 @ 5:58am

    In my opinion is quite understandable this action. I believe that none of you would like to have your country recognized as a touristic place for sexual activities, especially when you have many other things to offer. If you take a look on some of Brazilian’s main problems, you will find the Sexual Exploitation as well as Child abuse as one of the two most relevant. I really agree with this letter, first of all because it is just a request in order to clean their image. Second of all, the first step to decrease the Sexual Tourism in Brazil or any other country it is by acting on the internet, where it all begins nowadays, including dirty actions like this.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous, Feb 14th, 2012 @ 6:08am

    This action carried out by the brazilian gov just show how they have nice and hot bitches for us to explore.
    “You can’t run away from yourself”. The only reason for me to go to brazil is for fucking their hot and huge asses, otherwise will I have to go to thailand to fuck ugly bitches??

     

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  36.  
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    Luama, Feb 14th, 2012 @ 1:00pm

    Re:

    Só se alguma brasileira quiser você, o que acho muito dificil...

     

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  37.  
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    Luma, Feb 14th, 2012 @ 1:10pm

    Re:

    Muito obrigada pela compreensão, nós brasileiros temos lutado muito para acabar com o turismo sexual em nosso país, mas, acima de tudo isso queremos dar um basta a erotização infantil, punindo com leis rigidas os infratores seja eles quem forem.
    Essa carta é forma de desmistificar a visão que o exterior tem do Brasil, onde a brasileira é vista como prostituta, o que não é verdade, assim como tantas outras mulheres no mundo temos lutado pelos direitos.

     

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  38.  
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    mel nat (profile), Jun 12th, 2012 @ 11:18am

    Get rid of domains they do not like? Seriously!

    When countries start doing this are they trying to stop the problems with pornography or take control of the internet in their country?

    Sure everyone may have their reasons for or against this but it should be handled in the right way.

    People really should be able to get any domain they like and host it where they like. This is the way the internet was created and should stay.

    Handle your problems other ways.

     

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


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