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.

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Companies: google

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Comments on “Brazilian Court Fines Google Yet Again Over Anonymous Orkut Message”

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Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Dr. Scratch-N-Sniff says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

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