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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 Mortaegus (1688452) on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:57AM (#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.

    • 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 wi

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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.

        Spoken like a pedophile who rapes children.

      • 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.

    • 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 h00manist (800926) on Monday April 26, 2010 @07:41AM (#31982636) Journal
      http://slashdot.org/submission/1219710/Open-net-debate-on-Internet-laws-in-Brazil?art_pos=1 [slashdot.org] (links to original story) Brazil has opened public, free, internet debate on it's new internet law proposal. A hodgepodge of contradicting state laws, lawsuits, and rulings were blocking efforts to encourage more internet use, so a new federal law proposal is open to debate, including topics such as education, culture, freedom of expression, right-to-use, user and provider rights and responsibilities, anonymity, content removal and notices, crime and law enforcement, everything. Currently the site accepts comments on each paragraph of the law. Last October there was debate on the general principles to be included in the law. Brazilian Portuguese, but there is Google translate and volunteers translating to English.
  • by Itninja (937614) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:19AM (#31981904) Homepage
    ||this message has been removed until it can be checked by Slashdot admins||
  • Just like (Score:2, Funny)

    by asterix_2k1 (781702)

    Slashdot should be held responsible for idiotic comments on its pages. Oh, and 3rd post!

  • Policing comments (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:24AM (#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 Thanshin (1188877)

      The only true longterm solution is to force encryption and invite-only data access.

      I like to think the longterm solution will stop being so as soon as some way of ISP-less internet technology appears.

      However, I must admit it's just hope.

      Hope for those who come after us.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by delinear (991444)
        Maybe when Google owns everything end to end they can just have a splash screen to the whole internet saying "I agree not to be offended by anything I may see beyond this point", if you don't check it you don't get in.
    • Re:Policing comments (Score:5, Informative)

      by Spad (470073) <slashdot@sp[ ]co.uk ['ad.' in gap]> on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:30AM (#31982256) Homepage

      FTR, the correct format is "Sir Tim" or "Sir Tim Berners-Lee"; Knights are referred to by their First name or Fullname but never just their Surname.

    • 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...

  • can anyone shed any light on the state of copyright in brazil? if the hosting party takes all the heat internet users of brazil have a get out of jail free card.
    • Nobody said the user was free from punishment. They can punish both (one for posting, the other for allowing).

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:30AM (#31981970) Homepage
    Let's be clear that in Brazil, separation of Church and State means "opposite sides of the confession box".
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Thanshin (1188877)

      Let's be clear that in Brazil, separation of Church and State means "opposite sides of the confession box".

      And judges are Maxwell's demons?

  • by SharpFang (651121) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:32AM (#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 sznupi (719324)

      That would probably fall under some variant of judical immunity...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by darinfp (907671)

      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 Norfair (845108) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:39AM (#31982020) Journal
    In Soviet Brazil, Anonymous Coward pwns Google!
  • 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 Thanshin (1188877) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:55AM (#31982078)

      Every time I hear someone proclaim 'the should be a law against saying X' a little part of me dies...

      You clearly need a law against saying "there should be a law againt saying".

      • by Chrisq (894406)

        Every time I hear someone proclaim 'the should be a law against saying X' a little part of me dies...

        You clearly need a law against saying "there should be a law againt saying".

        Would this be the first law that breaks itself?

      • by thijsh (910751)
        You clearly found the paradox proving why no such laws should ever exists. Otherwise the whole legal system will collapse in on itself and disappear in a puff of purple smoke.
    • by iris-n (1276146)

      I hope judges in other countries (and perhaps Brazil too) will realize that this is not a matter of law

      I think you misunderstand the role of a judge.

      • by thijsh (910751)
        I get that you're hinting at the job of politicians to make laws, but the judge can always rule according to his interpretation of law. If he see the libel laws and the constitution (which guarantees freedom of speech) and weigh them he can choose to throw a case out of court because the freedom of speech right trumps another law *in that particular case*. I guess in this case he didn't because Brazil offers nu such protection for anonymous people, but still the judge could have called bullshit instead of f
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bloodhawk (813939)

      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 co

      • by thijsh (910751)
        Sure, actions do have consequence. If someone is insulting someone he will look bad in public opinion, not the person insulted. That should be enough! And if someone falsely accuses someone of a crime he himself is in violation of the law...
        Some stupid remark by a nobody will go unnoticed, unless he himself involves the law. And someone well known will think twice about lying and insulting someone because it can cost them their own head...
    • 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!

  • In unrelated news countries around the world start fining companies fees just because they can, also they like money!
  • 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.

    • by bircho (559727) on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:19AM (#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.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by maxume (22995)

        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.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by drinkypoo (153816)

          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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by icebraining (1313345)

      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 defa

    • by aussie_a (778472)

      How does that work? Before you stand at the edge of the street to give forth an expression of thought must you scream "My name is Bob Smith, I live at 24 Garden Terrace and I was born on the 17th of February, 1976 at 12:05pm"?

  • Someone should anonymously cover the judges house with graffiti, then sue him for defamation
  • Everyone that have a wall, or any 2D surface in Brazil (no movie pun intended) has better demolishing it, since it can be used to "an post any type of message without any checks beforehand, ".

    This is ridiculous.

  • 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.

    • by Sabriel (134364)

      Yes, one of the posters here has pointed out that Brazil forbids anonymous speech, which I was not aware of when I made the submission*. However, Orkut requires you to sign in - unless there's some "anonymous coward" option I missed - so the poster must have supplied an email address that the Brazilian authorities could not or did not trace. How is that Google's fault? There are no magic wands, and this is still a blatant case of "shoot the messenger".

      And regarding the Italian case, they didn't just fine Go

      • by acid06 (917409)

        Either way, the mere fact that anonymous speech is forbidden should be attacked.
        This effectively makes it impossible to have real free speech and the pressure should come from outside as, unfortunately, Brazilian citizens don't give a damn about this.

        Keep in mind this can potentially affect all of you, as Brazil and BRIC countries in general are gaining momentum in the post-crisis economic scenario.

  • 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 resp
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dunbal (464142) *

      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 aussie_a (778472)

        You're right. If I walk into a bar and say to someone "Could you please kill my wife? We have $100,000 in the safe with the combination for the safe being 4 7 2 6?" Clearly the person has done nothing wrong after all, its not like that information killed his wife. It was the man with the gun who killed the wife. Hell, the widowed husband could then sue the man with the gun for wrongful death and recoup some of the money he lost during the murder.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by instantkamera (919463)
      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 aussie_a (778472)

        But it looks so awesome when Jack Bauer and Batman do it. How can something that cool be wrong?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chrisq (894406)

      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.

    • ...and if the lies about your neighbours were spread by people telephoning, or mailing, each other then the common carrier status would exempt them from responsibility

      If they have no knowledge of what is said then they cannot be held responsible ... and the sheer volume of traffic means they cannot police it ...

  • In other words: if you own a wall and someone scribbles 'whoever reads this, sucks' on it, you're liable. I can see that, but it's not how, at the moment, most of the western world is put together. Walls would have to be extremely clean, for example.

  • In a previous story [slashdot.org], I commented [slashdot.org] about how censorship in Brazil should get more international attention.

    This is a perfect example of what I was talking about. In Brazil there are no safe harbor provisions for ISPs and judges just refuse to acknowledge the fact that Google Brazil is a subsidiary and might not have any control about Orkut, which is hosted in US ground.

    If you think about it, it's actually worse than China in some aspects: it's as if China ordered companies to censor information outside o

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