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Social Networks The Courts Google Your Rights Online

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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  • Policing comments (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Monday April 26, 2010 @04:24AM (#31981940)

    I'm not agreeing with this judge at all, please don't assume that for a minute.

    However, we are entering a very precarious phase of the internet. As more and more of our user-generated content goes online and into "cloud" storage, we are turning over huge amounts of private information and possibly illegal data to these hosting companies. The push to upload data is growing, and the counter-push to demand responsibility of the hosts is also growing.

    The first volley was almost 10 years ago when Napster was taken down for enabling illegal filesharing. Lately The Pirate Bay has been under attack for the same thing. Now we see Google under attack for providing a platform for someone to make illegal statements. The trend is to demand that those that make services available also police those services.

    And those making the demands have been winning.

    The only true longterm solution is to force encryption and invite-only data access. This pushes us away from an open Internet which Sir Berners-Lee envisioned and into the same parochial networked clusters that we had before.

    It's sad, but as long as there are people out there who think that morality can be legislated, then we will forever have the problem of needing to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  • by SharpFang (651121) on Monday April 26, 2010 @04:32AM (#31981986) Homepage Journal

    Someone should spray obscenities on the wall of the judge's house.
    Then someone else should sue him for providing the space...

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:18AM (#31982192) Journal
    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 bircho (559727) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:19AM (#31982196)
    IAAB (I am a Brazilian). Sure, anonimous posting is forbidden by Constitution. So is interest rates greater than 12%/year. It's more complicated than that. I think judges have a problem understanding how internet works and are trying to not lose power (like when a judge tried to block all of youtube because Cicarelli's sex video: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2007/06/youtube-wins-privacy-case-against-brazilian-supermodel.ars [arstechnica.com] ). I feel sorry for Google.
  • by icebraining (1313345) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:26AM (#31982232) Homepage

    Two? Is "no anonymity for others" a right?

    Besides, the problem is not so much prohibiting defamation, as it is to put the onus on every site that allows user-created content. Not only I find it an abuse (it's not Google fault someone posted illegal content there), but unfeasible: do they expect *every website on the web* to block all public content until manual moderation?! It's obviously impossible.

    It would be fun to see a widespread movement from worldwide (read: not subject to Brazilian law) persons defaming people on hundreds or thousands of Brazilian websites). Maybe when the values reached the millions of reais they would understand that enforcing anti-defamation laws in the Internet is impossible.

  • by darinfp (907671) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:28AM (#31982246)

    Nope.. It's more like a company sets up a graffiti wall on a major road, gets companies to sponsor it to make money, then invites people to write whatever they want. The company then denies all knowledge of what the people write and refuses to check it at any time to ensure people aren't using it for illegal purposes.

    Not saying it's right.. Just saying it's not as simple as you think.

  • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:33AM (#31982270) Homepage

    Pissed off? Who's pissed off? Asshole nationalistic pride? Whose feeling are being hurt, here, exactly?

    Psychological projection is the unconscious act of denial of a person's own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, such as to the weather, the government, a tool, or to other people. Thus, it involves imagining or projecting that others have those feelings. Peter Gay describes it as "the operation of expelling feelings or wishes the individual finds wholly unacceptable--too shameful, too obscene, too dangerous--by attributing them to another."--Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

  • by Mortaegus (1688452) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:57AM (#31982398)

    The problem with this trend is that the internet isn't like real life. In real life, stealing your information is difficult. The thief would have to dig through your trash and other distasteful things, maybe even break into your house. And if they wanted to see what kinds of things you were doing, or what you liked to buy, maybe so they could sell that information to an advertising company; they would have to hire a private investigator.

    And that's just for you. What about everyone else?

    The internet, and the way most people use it, leaves us all much more exposed. The simplest tracking cookie can tell someone everywhere you've been, from the items pages of amazon to your private social networking profile. Anonymity on the internet keeps us safe by making it that much harder to mine accurate information.

    Remember that (Brazilian) woman who had her insurance revoked after the insurer learned that she had pictures on (a friend's) facebook account, wherein those pictures she was smiling and having a good time, so she (obviously) must be cured of her major depression. Reality is much different. The not-drug treatment for depression is socialization, and everyone smiles for the camera. I hope she sued the balls off of that company, but I never followed up on that story.

    This is just an example of the damage that a company (which most people would agree is a legal one) can cause by abusing the exposure people face on the internet. What would less scrupulous individuals do if the internet lost anonymity? I'm sure it wouldn't affect anyone using it criminally. They'd simply get a proxy service or make their own. Suddenly, your information would become even more valuable, and you might get blamed for crimes you didn't commit if someone used your information to slander another person.

    The internet allows anonymity for a reason. It must stay free and open and anonymous.

    Demanding to change that is folly, and the laws that allow for this kind of criminalization of the service providers are trying to do just that.

  • by maxume (22995) on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:00AM (#31982414)

    If this holds up, it hurts Brazilians a lot more than it hurts Google.

    It is inconvenient for Google, but they don't derive a lot of their revenue from user comments.

  • by eugene2k (1213062) on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:05AM (#31982440) Homepage

    How do you premoderate a resource with millions of users? More probable is google and other hosting providers and ISPs lobbying for laws that specifically make them not liable for the actions of the users. That is of course if google can't appeal anymore. Otherwise an appeal seems more probable.

  • by bloodhawk (813939) on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:05AM (#31982446)

    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.

    It is not always that simple, insulting or lieing about someone in a public forum can have series consequences for the receiving party. People are not dumbasses for not wanting to have their reputation tainted, more than a few people and businesses have been ruined simply by their reputation, and as such there most definitely is a need for laws for people that insult/slander/malign people in a public forum, it can have severe consequences for the person being maligned and most definitely should also have consequences for the dick doing it. You need to grow and realise that in the real world actions have consequences.

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:07AM (#31982460) Homepage Journal

    if your not willing to back it with responsibility of that expression?

    In other words, Freedom of Expression does not mean freedom to slander. Too many people use anonymity to attack others so as to deny others the ability to respond in defense. Sorry, but calling someone a pedo and then hiding behind an anonymous id is just horseshit.

    Either stand behind your words or don't bother. We don't need Freedom of Expression becoming a forum troll's fallback. Living in a world of false accusations and slander without recourse is not one I care for.

    Yeah I can fully understand being anonymous versus an totalitarian government, but not attacking other citizens. Let alone Google knows the law in Brazil and its not allowed, how else was the judge to rule?

  • by c6gunner (950153) on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:10AM (#31982476)

    It's worse than that - if you own a house and someone spray-paints a libelous message on one of your walls, you could be held responsible. This ruling makes even UK libel laws seem sane in comparison.

  • 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.

    Can you name a single country in the world that does? Say what you like, but the fact is that all over the world governments and especially the public support censorship. You just say the magic words: child porn, terrorism, Muhammad, anorexia, extreme porn, etc, etc and people, pundits and politicians will trip over themselves in their eagerness to shut the web down. Public support for censorship in western democracies is overwhelming.

    You don't think this is "really" supporting censorship. Well then here it is: The Ultimate Censorship Supporter Acid Test v0.9:

    Someone has written a graphic, explicit, sordid, supportive, but purely textual fictional story about sexually molesting children under the age of 5. It has been uploaded to a webserver somewhere. Should this page/site be censored?

    If you answered yes (or are prepared to argue for it) then you are a firm supporter of censorship. You support the censorship of the purely written word, because you are either too afraid or too disgusted to stand up for the rights of everybody. People hate this test because it forces them to interpret the law and rights they way they should be interpreted; as applying equally, logically, and without prejudice to everyone, everywhere, all of the time.

    Unfortunate schmucks like me who actually took these principles to heart in their formative years then get lumped with heaps of shit for daring to mention them out in the open where pedophiles/terrorists/witches/anorexics/suicide groups/etc are involved. I suppose we should have spent our youth learning to be hypocrites in order to survive in this enlightened age.

    Google are fighting a losing battle. The public, governments, the media and now the legal system are not on their side. The internet genie is being put back in the bottle, one step at a time.

  • by devent (1627873) on Monday April 26, 2010 @07:10AM (#31982810) Homepage

    The two examples are completely wrong. A better example is if I put a big white board on one side of my building and tell everyone to pick up a pen and write messages on it.

    A wall is not suppose to have graffiti on it and the one painting messages on a wall is committing a crime. But if you open a forum which is public for everyone your intent is that everyone is leaving a message.

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday April 26, 2010 @07:12AM (#31982820)

    Google was not hacked: they invited everyone to post content, so the similarity is lost.

    The Mead paper company is not going to like this. They not only invite everyone to use their paper to write things on, but they actively promote it. Now clearly they will be held responsible for all the libel written on their paper.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 26, 2010 @07:13AM (#31982826)

    "Yay America" is not an opinion, it is mocking another country for its laws

    I assumed he was being ironic. "nor do they subscribe to the "post anything, trust nothing" philosophy of the Internet" doesn't really sound like someone who approves of that absurdity. I suppose that is mocking but I would guess that it's his own country that he's mocking.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday April 26, 2010 @07:38AM (#31983042) Homepage Journal

    It is inconvenient for Google, but they don't derive a lot of their revenue from user comments.

    If google were required to kick all Brazilians off Orkut, perhaps they could try marketing it to the rest of the world again. I was using Orkut, and my friends were joining slowly but surely, until Brazil took it over and everyone on Orkut started getting gigantic volumes of Brazilian spam. It's amazing that with all Google's language tools, they can't give me a spam filter that scores up everything in a language I don't read.

  • You will probably read some comments bellow “defending” Brazil against an “offense” made by an American. As a brazilian, this sort of attitude only embarrass me.

    Brazilian libel and slander laws suck. Period. As a country, we don’t value that much freedom of speech (although we speak on the contrary). When you read the brazilian constitution you can find an article that states: “Freedom of speech is guaranteed in our country”. With an addendum: “But anonymity is forbidden”.

    The decision of the judge only reflects this doctrine that bans anonymity and makes difficult the job of whistleblowers.

    This has some interesting consequences. For instance, brazilian companies that have stock options in the NY Stock Exchange have great difficulties to comply to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (Sox). Sox says the company MUST have procedures to allow anonymous complaints, but brazilian laws says that you are NOW ALLOWED to make anonymous complaints. Talk about Cath 66, he?

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