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 (C?digo Penal Brasileiro). Moreover, this practice is also provided in our Statute of Children and Adolescents (Estatuto da Crian?a 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

Filed Under: ,
Companies: sedo

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Comments on “Brazilian Government Ordering Web Hosting Firms To Kill Domain Names They Don't Like”

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39 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Gracey says:

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?

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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?

Ninja (profile) says:

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.

ssh web hosting (user link) says:

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

Mike G. says:

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.

Luma says:

Re:

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

mel nat (profile) says:

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.

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