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In Brazil, Google Fined For Content of Anonymous Posting 484

Posted by timothy
from the hey-you-put-up-that-blank-wall dept.
Sabriel writes "Google's appeal against a 2008 defamation ruling in Brazil over an anonymous posting on Orkut has been denied, and Google has been fined $8,500US ($9,100) for the crime of being vandalized. In the words of the judge, Alvimar de Avila, '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].' I'd submit a blunter opinion of this farce, but it might be considered offensive and injurious content. ... I wonder if he's related to the judge in Italy?"
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In Brazil, Google Fined For Content of Anonymous Posting

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  • So... Brazil doesn't believe in freedom of expression on the Internet, nor do they subscribe to the "post anything, trust nothing" philosophy of the Internet. What a shame.

    Yay America.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:17AM (#31981900)

    Probable end result from retarded rulings like this?

    GeoIP-based blocks - if you live in a country with retarded judges, you get blocked from a bunch of services that like to shield themselves against lawsuits like this.

  • Re:Just like (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kjella (173770) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:24AM (#31981946) Homepage

    Stupidity is not illegal, or the jails would really be overcrowding.

  • by thijsh (910751) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:41AM (#31982024) Journal
    When will people understand that freedom of speech is inherently linked to offense and injury on the side of the receiving part of any 'verbal abuse' or 'insults'... This is not something you can (or need to) protect against without sacrificing (or eroding) freedom of speech!
    I hope judges in other countries (and perhaps Brazil too) will realize that this is not a matter of law, but a matter of common decency. If you insult someone willingly you're a dick and that's it, no need for laws, no need for convictions and most of all no need for a jihad or any physical harm.

    Oh yeah, and people who believe they need (or have right to) legal protection against insults are dumbasses who are willing to sacrifice one of our basic rights for their own personal little feel-good gain. Grow some fucking self-confidence and just don't dignify some things with a response! Every time I hear someone proclaim 'the should be a law against saying X' a little part of me dies...
  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich&aol,com> on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:59AM (#31982088) Journal

    Guys, before you get all hot under the collar, please keep in mind that anonymity is forbidden in Brazil by her Federal Constitution; Title II, Chapter 1, Article 5, Paragraph 4:

    IV - the expression of thought is free, anonymity being forbidden;

    X - the privacy, private life, honour and image of persons are inviolable, and the right to compensation for property or moral damages resulting from their violation is ensured;

    So, anonymously posting defaming material against someone else violates at least two of the victim's constitutionally guaranteed civil rights in Brazil.

  • Details? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cowboy76Spain (815442) on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:17AM (#31982184)

    For one time I RTFA before posting, it has little or no details about the causes.

    I mean, the devil lies in the details... There is a law in Brazil that allows only registered posts? Or that IPs are logged? If Google operated their service disregarding the requirements of the country, then they got themselves in trouble. Or it was that the judge just make that decision by himself?

    For an example of what it could be, I just want to recall that the "italian judge" mentioned in the summary fined Google not because someone had put a video of several people harassing and beating a mentally handicaped person. The real reason is that Google did refuse to retire something like that when they were notified that it was there, and they only did retire it when they were threatened. Of course, then TFS just wrote that Google was fined "because someone had uploaded the video".

    If we have to debate about facts, it would be nice if we are informed of them with a little more depth.

  • Re:that does it, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OrwellianLurker (1739950) on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:19AM (#31982198)

    I'm adding Brazil to the blacklist, along with UK, Australia, China, Iran, and a few other places hell-bent on destroying free speech.

    You can add America and most of our allies once ACTA is signed.

  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:31AM (#31982262)

    A lie can cause serious damage to someone. Some neighbours of mine had their home vandalised because they had been falsely accused

          So the lie jumped out and vandalized their house, did it?

  • by instantkamera (919463) on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:33AM (#31982272)
    Im sure there are cases where libel/slander comes into play (I can never get them straight),
    but isn't the real issue that people are taking the law into their own hands?
    Vigilante justice is a bad idea (as well as being illegal) for just that reason.
    Even if what was said about your neighbors was true, those vandals broke the law. Why didnt they ask questions before flying off the handle?
  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:35AM (#31982282) Homepage Journal

    That's about stupid. In effect, WalMart should assume responsibility for that mouthy punk who used WalMart's intercom system to tell all black people to leave the store. WalMart is racist, because some kid used their intercom to make a racial statement. Extending that idea just a little bit - if you owned a shopping mall, and some skin heads staged a protest on your property, (with or without your permission) then you would be responsible for all the hate speech that resulted.

    The fact is, many nations, including mine, have fascist laws that need to be changed. We need more activists working to make free speech a reality, and stop holding web sites and site administrators responsible for the rantings of ignoramuses.

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:36AM (#31982292)

    A lie can cause serious damage to someone. Some neighbours of mine had their home vandalised because they had been falsely accused of being involved in animal experimentation. If you post such a lie deliberately then aren't you in some way responsible for the harm suffered? But Google is offering to allow people to post whatever they want maliciously, and offering to hide their identity from everyone - even themselves. If Google is going to allow people to do this, then why are they not taking on responsibility for the harm themselves?

    By that argument the mail service should open and check all letters and the phone company listen to all phone calls. You can use both to spread malicious lies anonymously.

  • by thijsh (910751) on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:38AM (#31982298) Journal
    The USA has:
    - The most different lobby groups trying to get laws eroding free speech (left, right, liberal, Christian, Muslim... whatever. All 'for' free speech but against 'X being said because *that* is harmful').
    - By far the most lawsuits against people who express opinions (anonymous or not, satire or not), sometimes with a conviction.
    - Very strong censoring, some self-inflicted under pressure (like Comedy Central), some because of lobby groups (can't say 'fuck' on TV).
  • by selven (1556643) on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:50AM (#31982364)

    I say decentralize the web. Make it so that websites are stored "on the cloud", with dozens, or even hundreds, of redundant copies broken into small chunks on random people's computers. Make publishing these sites easy, so anyone can do it, removing the need for centralized holding sites like Youtube, blogspot.com, etc. Reduce ISPs to being a purely city-to-city pipe, with intra-city connections being done through the individual computers themselves.

    Freenet [freenetproject.org] is already doing a lot of this, if we can just make it more mainstream...

  • mesh networks (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:59AM (#31982410)

    yeah, ive hoped that wimax like range (~5km ~ 1mbit) could work in a p2p symmetric manner and allow mesh networks in cities (or even some rural areas).

    but surely we will still need fat pipes under the sea to get packets between continents, and thats going to cost. so perhaps in the future we will just pay for the peering agreement, and isp's will be virtualised.

    + caching.

  • by aussie_a (778472) on Monday April 26, 2010 @07:09AM (#31982466) Journal

    I hope your never falsely accused of a terrible crime. Although if you are, and the allegation is made public, you will find out first hand just how much your damage your version of freedom of speech entails.

    Screaming "Rapist" or "Paedophile" at innocent people isn't something that should be protected in my opinion. But then I'm Australian where freedom of speech isn't explicitly guaranteed. So I'm sure you'll dismiss my opinion as that of an ignorant savage. But hey, go team America!

  • Re:that does it, (Score:2, Insightful)

    by aussie_a (778472) on Monday April 26, 2010 @07:18AM (#31982524) Journal

    How is that "freed speech zone" thing working out that was around in the time of Bill Clinton's reign and then famously used by George W. Bush? Has the saviour Obama stopped them yet? Or has he continued to use it as a useful tool to further his political career?

  • by Shihar (153932) on Monday April 26, 2010 @07:27AM (#31982570)

    He wasn't criticizing the judge, so I am not sure exactly why you are defending him. He was criticizing Brazil's laws (civil or otherwise). Brazil's laws around libel and slander absolutely suck beyond all comprehension. Brazil has close to the worst in the world. They do infringe greatly on the quality of public speech in Brazil, and if crap like this continues, all speech by all citizens in Brazil. The US on the other hand has, bar none, the best libel and slander laws in the world... which is to say, we basically have none. In order to get nailed for libel or slander in the US you need to 1) cause actual and real harm 2) personally know it is a lie 3) are presumed innocent with extremely high bars set for proving 1 & 2, and 4) can counter sue any asshole that loses their case. You are more likely to be struck dead by lightening than get sued and lose a slander case in the US.

    That said, the US has an equivalent to Brazil's terrible libel and slander laws. US copyright laws have more or less the same effect. The only reason why I would take evil US copyright laws over evil Brazil libel and slander laws is that you can make a half-assed argument that copyright does something useful and, far more importantly, crappy slander and libel laws protect slime ball politicians much better than crappy copyright laws.

    Brazil is actually doing some innovative stuff in terms of copyright law. I don't know exactly where it stands today, but they had an awesome proposal that they were giving serious though to a little while back on enforcing sanity in copyright law. Give me that plus US libel and slander law, and I think you are looking at some pretty decent steps taken in protecting freedom of speech.

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Monday April 26, 2010 @07:32AM (#31982592) Homepage Journal

    No one implied that Google was hacked. Providing a place where people might express themselves does not make you responsible for every idea that might be expressed. It's as simple as that. Own a pub? A couple of gorillas decide to duke it out, for any number of reasons? HEY! IT'S YOUR FAULT FOR HAVING A PUBLIC PLACE WHERE PEOPLE CAN DRINK, TALK, OR FIGHT!

  • by delinear (991444) on Monday April 26, 2010 @07:35AM (#31982606)
    Exactly the point I was about to make. While I disagree with the decision and think it sets a dangerous precedent, the difference between what happened with Google and GP's examples is what steps were taken to prevent the injurious action. If skin-heads are protesting in your mall and you do nothing, you might be partly responsible for their actions by implicitly allowing them to carry them out. If you try to stop them or call the police, even if they can't be stopped, at least you have attempted to mitigate what's happening. I don't know enough about Brazillian law to comment on the outcome of this case, but throwing up some strawmen worse case scenarios and implying that one equals the other is just wrong.
  • by DMiax (915735) on Monday April 26, 2010 @07:43AM (#31982648)
    My issue is that "haha you are less free" is not a criticism, just a way for him to feel better about his own country.
  • If the law deserves to be mocked...

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday April 26, 2010 @08:18AM (#31982860) Journal

    >>>"Yay America"

    Personally I think it's refreshing. Most of the Slashdot posts over the last 1-2 years have been "America sucks". While America/the U.S. is far from perfect it's no worse than say, the European Union as a whole. Watch the movie "Latya 4-Ever" as example. I found this movie shocking because I didn't think such thing could happen within the EU Socialist Paradise (people without homes or jobs are supposed to be cared for). It's a bit like the kettle calling the pot dirty.

    BTW in America:

    It's not enough to say, "He said bad things about me." You also have to show financial harm has been caused, and if you can't do that then the anonymous poster, or google.com which allowed the post, would be held blameless and protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the 50 State Constitutions. The right to free speech is considered more important by the law.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Monday April 26, 2010 @08:22AM (#31982888) Homepage

    What good is freedom of expression if your not willing to back it with responsibility of that expression?

    You can speak out about every dictatorship, every corrupt regime - but some only once. "Responsibility" is one thing, being put up against the wall and shot or imprisoned indefinately is another.

  • by d3ac0n (715594) on Monday April 26, 2010 @08:25AM (#31982914)

    Google may fall in the second cathegory by current law.

    Except that it quite clearly does not.

    Google didn't re-post the libelous comments AS GOOGLE or as a Google Employee or legal functionary. if they had, then your example "B" would be dead-on. Google's case clearly falls under Example "A".

    They were simply providing a forum. If you read the TOS of the forum in question the person in question was clearly in violation of the TOS. So someone misrepresented themselves (by agreeing to the TOS) and then posted something libelous which Google was not quite quick enough in removing. How, in any SANE universe is this Google's fault?

    No, the Judge is just a freaking moron and/or the law in Brazil is stupidly written.

  • by Shihar (153932) on Monday April 26, 2010 @08:28AM (#31982958)

    Give this man a lawsuit!

    No, wait! Give Slashdot a lawsuit

  • by sjbe (173966) on Monday April 26, 2010 @08:39AM (#31983050)

    In civil law countries (like Italy too) the judges have little choice in applying the law.

    Hogwash. Civil law does depend heavily on codes and statutes but that does not mean there is no room for rational judgment on the part of the judge.

    If I yell in the streets something libelous I am responsible, even if someone else told me first. The same applies to Google...

    Google didn't yell anything. Google provided a forum. Since we are so fond of analogies this is like holding the paving company that built the street responsible for what someone said on the street. You might as well hold the maker of a megaphone [wikipedia.org] responsible for whatever anyone says through one.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 26, 2010 @08:47AM (#31983126)

    ... you do nothing, you might be partly responsible for their actions by implicitly allowing them to carry them out. If you try to stop them or call the police, even if they can't be stopped, at least you have attempted to mitigate what's happening.

    Conversely, I was told by a lawyer that if I in any way censored or limited speech on a web site I used to run then I could've been construed as the 'Editor/Publisher', and could've be held liable for the content. If I took no action, I was in the clear.

    Interesting twist on common sense, no?

  • by elnyka (803306) on Monday April 26, 2010 @09:05AM (#31983286) Homepage

    But wearing the pissed off person hat

    Easy tiger, you are not even Brazilian to take offense, certainly has never lived in the US or Brazil. You are not even from this side of the globe. And look at you, with your panties on fire by e-rage. RAAAARGH!!!

    Seriously man, you don't know who you were replying to. For all you know, he's a Brazilian living in the US (yes, a foreign person living in the US preferring the US in some ways over his own country. Incredible, I know.) Take me for instance. I'm Nicaraguan, but I live in the US, and the hell that I will back there again. After having lived half of my life under civil law and my other half under case/common law, I much prefer the later when you take all pros and cons into account. I personally know quote a few Brazilians living here who feel the same.

    I'm not saying that the dude is a US-living Brazilian, but you really don't know who you are blasting away with your ARGGH-AMERCUNT! post, do you?

    you are an asshole and can shove your nationalistic pride up your ass.

    You were just looking for an opportunity to vent some long-built steam against what you *think* is American nationalism. You found something, you built yourself into an e-rage and made up an excuse to blast the living crap out of it. I'm not one to judge people for their proclivities, so do as you please. Just don't complain if you get blisters after screwing that nice straw man you just built here.

    You can live in a place where corporations can do anything and people can do nothing. Call it freedom if you want and go away.

    See, that's reverse nationalism supported by thick brush painted generalizations of something you barely know of. Projection is the clutch for those who like to feel morally superior. Let me know how it works for you. Or better yet, get some help and stop being such a sensitive e-bitch looking for a gratuitous cause to fight for. It might actually do you some good.

  • by paraax (126484) on Monday April 26, 2010 @09:17AM (#31983406)

    This freedom do not gives you the right to offend others. You have the freedom to say whatever you want, as long as you don't use this freedom to clearly offend someone.

    And this is where we part ways. You cannot have the right not to be offended, even if the government says you do. Such a right (perfectly enforced) would lead to a society where noone could say anything to anyone for fear of offending them. And it wouldn't stop there as I personally know people who'd be happy to take there offense at the slightest smell to a judge. Wearing the wrong cologne today?

    The bar must be set higher to have logically consistent rules.

  • Re:that does it, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by martas (1439879) on Monday April 26, 2010 @09:18AM (#31983424)
    try this on for size: the holocaust never happened, and gays suck (pun intended). see what i did there? and guess what? neither i, nor slashdot, have been or will be sued for this! that's freedom of speech. just because the NYT might not want to publish hate speech because they're interested in selling their newspapers (or good journalism. either one works.) doesn't mean you're not free to express yourself, anonymously, without fear of retribution.
  • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Monday April 26, 2010 @09:21AM (#31983444)

    "The holier than thou attitude is what I am taking issue with. "Yay America" is not an opinion, it is mocking another country for its laws. It does not earn any goodwill." Yay Planet Earth!
    We're Number 1!

    Screw Planet Earth. If we looked at the state of freedom and included the whole of the planet I'd be pretty damned disappointed (In fact, I am).

    This situation in Brazil is bad, and saying Yay America isn't inappropriate in this situation. Feel free to shout 'Yay Canada' as well, and as an American commenting on this issue I'd respond with 'Hell yeah Canada, let's not screw up like Brazil is right now'. Then I'd yell over to Europe and say "Who over there isn't screwing up like Brazil? Yay to you too!" Then we can all get together and give a good shout of 'Boo Kim Jong Il'

    I'm pretty glad that you guys over in Europe have such strong protections for your populace against large corporations. Yay Germany (Last I heard they had some pretty solid protections)

    But to be honest, I'm pretty damned glad for the opportunity to have been born in the United States, I think this country gets enough things right that I'm comfortable in not just saying 'yay America' but 'fuck yeah'. Especially considering how much more it could suck if I were in a country like Iran, Somalia, Sudan, etc.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday April 26, 2010 @09:58AM (#31983806) Journal

    >>>Google published the post, they were not vandalized, and they _are_ responsible for it.

    By that logic AT&T is responsible for all the gossip/slander passing over their telephone lines, or the New York Times should be responsible for the dishonest sellers publishing classified ads in their paper. ----- It is not a reasonable position to hold. The company should not be held liable for the actions of its users.

  • The famous "Fire in a crowded theater" analogy is appropriate here.

    The classic strawman argument to justify censorship: There exist situations where people are liable for their use of speech, therefore censorship is valid. The fallacy here is thinking that no censorship means no liability. Censorship and liability are two very, very different concepts. Liability means people must be tried in open court under the law. Censorship means that works can be banned without recourse to trial or law, and all outside the public eye. Empowering censors weakens both open society and the rule of law.

    As you point out nearly all normal people support limits on the written and spoken word depending on the circumstances.

    Indeed, depending on the circumstances. And the trouble is those circumstances for 99.9% of people will be "If they're talking about something I don't like." Given the opportunity, the public would happily ban "violent" video games. There used to be a rule of law which prevented this kind of thing from happening, but fear and apathy is slowly eroding it. We will all end up like Australia before too long.

  • by nightfire-unique (253895) on Monday April 26, 2010 @11:17AM (#31984716)

    The "fire in a crowded theatre" example is problematic; you are not being charged with act of expressing "fire;" you are being charged with the act of endangering the public. Whether you yell "fire" or change the screen to display a burning theater is immaterial.

    Of course this argument can be applied in bullshit situations like "we weren't charging him with writing down with the government, we were charging him with endangering the public!"

    An aroused, vigilant public and court system is the only real defense.

    But, in any case, preventing people from yelling "fire" in a movie theatre is not a form of censorship.

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