Brazil's Government Wants Twitter To Turn Over Data On Users Who Mocked Victim Of Assassination Attempt

from the criminalizing-jerks dept

World governments continue to believe Twitter is the best conduit for oppression. Twitter is the main target of Turkish president Recep Erdogan's loutish attempts to mute dissent and criticism. Other countries find Twitter's speedy delivery of punchy content a constant threat to their power and routinely block their citizens' access to the microblogging site.

Twitter is too compliant too often, so the cycle of dissent-crushing continues. Twitter will push back now and then but, like other service providers, often places market share ahead of protecting users from their encroaching governments.

Brazil's government was hoping to speak to a more compliant Twitter when complaining about mean tweets, but the call appears to have been answered by the steelier side of its international relations unit.

A judge on Brazil’s top electoral court on Friday ordered Twitter to hand over data of 16 users who celebrated via tweets the near-fatal assassination attempt two weeks ago of far-right, poll-leading presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro.'

Judge Carlos Horbach rejected an appeal from Twitter regarding the request and gave two days for the company to hand over the data, which was requested by the Bolsonaro campaign. The users could potentially face charges under Brazil’s hate crime laws.

Twitter did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the judicial order in its second-biggest market in terms of number of users.

Celebrating the stabbing of a presidential candidate may be tasteless and rude, but it shouldn't be a crime. But in Brazil, it's apparently illegal to celebrate the wounding of politicians. This is the danger of hate crime laws -- ones often written with an eye on defending the powerless, but deployed in service of the powerful far more often. Bolsonaro may not be president, but he's ahead in the polls so he's only a vote away from being Brazil's leader. A politician with 30 years of service under his belt is the very definition of "powerful."

Twitter is pushing back this time and appears to have some experience challenging government overreach. If it continues to refuse to turn over the data, it will face fines of $12,000/day, presumably in perpetuity. In addition, the Brazilian version of contempt of court charges could result in the arrest of Brazil-based Twitter execs.

It's another reminder that it's good to be king -- or at least a step away from the top job. The laws written to serve the public will protect you, even if your personal security team can't.


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  • icon
    coynet (profile), 2 Oct 2018 @ 5:00am

    Time management

    If they didn't spend so much time investigating Twitter jokes, they might actually have time to find out who assassinated Marielle Franco.

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

    • icon
      renato (profile), 2 Oct 2018 @ 6:22am

      Re: Time management

      Nice slogan, but unfortunately the electoral court (TSE) does not investigate such crimes.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2018 @ 10:46am

        Re: Re: Time management

        Well, it was actually the campaign requesting the order. But I'm sure if the Court put their minds to it, they could find some orders to issue with respect to the other case, if they weren't so busy issuing stupid orders like this.

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

        • icon
          renato (profile), 2 Oct 2018 @ 4:00pm

          Re: Re: Re: Time management

          Well, it was actually the campaign requesting the order.

          The article's quote say that, but the blame is shifted to the government to issue the order. The quoted article does not anything else (useful) besides what was quoted here.

          There is a lot of missing information. 16 users being denounced is nothing, I would guess that they could easily find 100 times more users to denounce without any effort. It is probably just being used to censor those 16 specific users because of their impact, or just to get their information, leak it and let their sympathizers bully them later.

          But I'm sure if the Court put their minds to it, they could find some orders to issue with respect to the other case, if they weren't so busy issuing stupid orders like this.

          The judge has done almost no effort here. He received a complaint, and it is using twitter to obtain the users info to cite them in the process.

          In the case of Marielle case, this was already done by the federal police (not sure if it was them or the Public Ministry) which investigated some defamation charges.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2018 @ 5:08am

    just about everything that is happening internet-wise seems to have 1 or other or both of 2 things in mind, to protect the rich, the famous, the powerful, while at the same time throwing social media companies (in particular) and ordinary people not just under the bus, but out the window and into jail! judges, courts, security forces and governments everywhere are following the same course with absolutely no thought of what they are doing to their own citizens, countries or, more importantly, the planet as a whole.
    the other tack, which seems to end up on the same course, eventually, is handing over control of just about everything that can be done, cane be achieved, can be invented, to the entertainment and copyright industries! every day we read here and elsewhere about 'another step taken towards achieving total control of the best media distribution platform invented so far', with increases in when the public can get something without being ripped off (life + 70 years! i mean, come on! how ridiculous is this!) coupled with the jailing or massive fines issued because a certain person, who has been proven to have done something illegal or disgraceful, but wants no one else to know or spread what that person has done, goes to court under the equally ridiculous 'right to be forgotten' law! if that was anywhere near sensible, why is it that someone who did something 20 years ago and was given a 'police record' is then subjected to all sorts of suspicion and accusation, even though done nothing? where is that persons 'right to be forgotten'? oh, i forgot! this person isn't among the rich, the famous or the powerful! good for a few but not for everyone! a world of slaves is around the corner and all because of a purposefully induced 'financial crisis' to get the rich etc into positions of dictating everything to everyone else!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2018 @ 9:56am

    "Twitter's speedy delivery of punchy content a constant threat to their power"

    Their own derogatory term "snowflake" seems to be applicable here. Those with thin skin so to speak, should avoid careers that typically involve confrontation and criticisms, like politics. They tend to be very bad at it.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 2 Oct 2018 @ 10:23am

    I can't say I don't understand those who celebrated the assassination attempt. The man (Bolsonaro) is worse than Trump. Misogynist, racist, homophobic and virtually everything bad humanity is capable of.

    More on topic, our Constitution has free speech codified but not anonymity so it is not really a surprise.

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

  • icon
    nabru01 (profile), 2 Oct 2018 @ 10:41am

    A politician with 30 years of service under his belt is the very definition of "powerful."

    30 years of service with nothing to show for it (no major projects, no changes in law, just leeching off taxpayer money while complaining about other leeches) and a massive fan club thanks to his ability to deliver zingers and other tasty but empty speeches.

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

  • identicon
    carlb, 3 Oct 2018 @ 8:35am

    Brazil has a poor record for freedom of expression

    They seem to be infamous for a few things, such as criminalising libel or having police show up on someone's doorstep to intimidate citizens into silence if a well-connected public figure is insulted. It's even worse than the dystopia in which lawyers for everyone from DJT to Theranos are paid to silence whistleblowers stateside.

    Sue for libel and, instead of a hired process server, a court official shows up uninvited:

    https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/in-brazil-the-justice-prevails-again/article215782 25/

    It all looks very official, very intimidating but actually bringing a case to trial can take two years or more in Brazil's broken system and the outcome is likely anyone's guess. That's bad for freedom of expression, but Western governments tend to give Brazil the benefit of the doubt as it could be worse - back when Canada was entrenching its flawed Charter of Rights and Freedoms in its constitution in 1982, Brazil was still living under outright dictatorship.

    That can have unfortunate consequences. I owned a parody website and found more frivolous legal threats arrived from Brazil than from any of the other problematic countries (Turkey, Thailand, China, Russia) combined - although part of that may be that the worst countries simply block the website so no one can see it, Great Firewall of China style.

    Of course, none of the lawsuits ever actually materialise, as applying Brazilian law to a website in some other country with no Brazilian presence is nonsense - but I've had one lawyer tell me not to travel to Brazil after police in that country abused Interpol channels to demand that federal police here ask me for personal identifying info on individual users. My only defence is not to store that info in the first place in any permanent form, so that it does not exist if my government makes the mistake of giving full faith and credit to what is a broken system which directly violates the principles behind our domestic laws on privacy and free expression.

    As long as individual platforms and individual webmasters cave to these people and their spurious demands, the problems will continue. The only way through this is to have a very thick skin and no physical presence in Brazil.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2018 @ 4:36pm

    And the FBI wants a golden key for encryption. Never forget.

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


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