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Brazilian Judge Orders 24-hour Shutdown of Google and Youtube 339

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the internet-replaces-the-airwaves dept.
_Sharp'r_ writes "Judge Flavio Peren of Mato Grosso do Sul state in Brazil has ordered the arrest of the President of Google Brazil, as well as the 24-hour shutdown of Google and Youtube for not removing videos attacking a mayoral candidate. Google is appealing, but has recently also faced ordered fines of $500K/day in Parana and the ordered arrest of another executive in Paraiba in similar cases." Early reports indicated that the judge also ordered the arrest of the Google Brazil President, but the story when this was written is that the police haven't received any such order (and an earlier such order was overuled recently). The video is in violation of their pre-election laws.
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Brazilian Judge Orders 24-hour Shutdown of Google and Youtube

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  • Pre-election laws (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mkaks (2738943)
    Note that in this case it's about good censorship. Most countries on earth have these kind of pre-election rules to combat PR attack on the last hours of elections. Most sane countries have these laws. Since it's just 24 hours, it really just seems to ban it right before elections and is not some penalty on Google or Youtube. Google is intentionally breaking laws here and should be punished.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @05:17AM (#41461441)

      Don't you mean Google users?

      • by isorox (205688)

        Don't you mean Google users?

        Youtube isn't a common carrier, it censors a lot of stuff.

        It's the same if CNN of Fox news broadcast this type of stuff during election day (which I assume is illegal in America)

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          I've never heard of a law prohibiting the reporting of news or running of ads in the US close to elections. I have even seen political adds run after the polls are closed and we are waiting for the count (guess some people do not think that far ahead).

          I would imagine any law limiting speech would be over turned pretty fast as out first amendment free speech has long been interpreted to be especially pertaining to political speech..

          • Re:Pre-election laws (Score:5, Informative)

            by ScentCone (795499) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @06:36AM (#41461857)

            I've never heard of a law prohibiting the reporting of news or running of ads in the US close to elections

            Then you missed out on part of McCain-Feingold, which did ban some speech along those lines. That's part of what the supreme court recently found to be unconstitutional: muzzling communication like that runs very contrary to one of the founding principles of our constitution. The law allowed, for example, a business like General Electric or News Corp (which both run media outlets, though of different political orientations) to use their editorial voices to communicate about candidates and ballot issues right up through poll closing - but prohibited others (like you or me, or groups we might join, like the NRA or Greenpeace and the like) from doing the same. Completely capricious, and justifiably shot down in the court. But it was the law of the land for a while there.

            • Re:Pre-election laws (Score:5, Informative)

              by jbolden (176878) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @08:28AM (#41462501) Homepage

              McCain-Feingold never prohibited speech by existing media at all. It had some prohibitions on paid speech. We have strong protections for people lobbying congress and strong laws against bribery. Paid and free speech have never been treated the same.

              • by Xylantiel (177496)

                But it is always possible to sufficiently disguise paid speech as free. The Citizen's United case was about a propaganda film disguised as a for-profit movie. The promoters just exhibited it at a loss, but it was structured as a for-profit show. So how does one go about "proving" speech is paid in these corner cases? I think paid speech is what is fundamentally wrong with the US democracy, but there is an argument to be made that it is simply not workable to restrict it. The electorate just has to figu

              • by _Sharp'r_ (649297)

                One problem is that most existing media was exempted under McCain-Feingold, even though it's really also "paid" speech. It's not like the NY Times wasn't paying it's employees, wasn't paid by advertisers, etc... The bill seemed to imply that the media was unbiased, but someone else who wanted to publish something would be horrible.

                Of course, the media was all for that distinction, since it increased their power relative to everyone else who was hobbled by the law. So all the media reports were about how won

            • by _Sharp'r_ (649297)

              Google should still be appealing the rulings, but they should also just "forget" all the official Brazilian government websites, all the political websites of current Brazilian officials, etc... until the appeals go through... add a big blank spot at all their official locations on google maps... and blacklist any brazilian government email addresses for sending and receiving via gmail, registering on any of the google sites, etc...

              I mean, if they don't want Google to publish stuff on the internet on their

          • by gwolf (26339) <gwolf@gwo[ ]org ['lf.' in gap]> on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @08:28AM (#41462495) Homepage

            Right. There are many fundamentally broken things in the USA democracy - Funding and advertising is one of them. Most countries I know of have strict laws regulating who can fund a party, what are the tops for funding - And how can that be spent. Most countries also require a given period (here in Mexico, 72 hours) before the election where no advertising can be made. Campaigning is over, and it should not distract the citizen - This is done in part because of past experiences where i.e. rallies for party X were conducted in areas that would vote for party Y, making it hard for voters to reach the booths.

            • Shhhh... Don't give US parties any more bad ideas!

        • by 91degrees (207121) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @06:32AM (#41461831) Journal

          It's the same if CNN of Fox news broadcast this type of stuff during election day (which I assume is illegal in America)

          This is not the case. The US has possibly the strongest protection of freedom of speech in the world, and any such law would be in violation of the constitution.

          But most other countries do consider freedom of speech to be a right that should be balanced with other rights. A fair election being one of them, and the belief that public criticism of a candidate without adequate time for the candidate to address the accusations would violate this right.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            But that's not the case. Here in Brazil censorship is becoming common when politicians are involved. In 2009 one of the largest newspapers in Brazil was prevented from publishing news about a police operation against the son of the President of the Senate Jose Sarney. His son, Fernando Sarney. His son, Fernando Sarney, investigated for corruption is not politician and 2009 was not a electoral year, but a federal judge blocked the newspaper Estado de Sao Paulo to publish news about the police investigation.

        • by jbolden (176878)

          It's the same if CNN of Fox news broadcast this type of stuff during election day (which I assume is illegal in America)

          You would be assuming wrong. CNN or FOX can have a 24 hour presentation where they openly advocate for any candidates they want and say just about anything they want. The protections regarding political speech in the USA are very strong.

          • Re:Pre-election laws (Score:4, Informative)

            by isorox (205688) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @12:00PM (#41465023) Homepage Journal

            It's the same if CNN of Fox news broadcast this type of stuff during election day (which I assume is illegal in America)

            You would be assuming wrong. CNN or FOX can have a 24 hour presentation where they openly advocate for any candidates they want and say just about anything they want. The protections regarding political speech in the USA are very strong.

            Interesting.

            Certainly in the UK, once polling opens that's it for anything political. No exit polls, no party political broadcasts, and very guarded reporting from journalists.

            But then we don't have a (broadcast) media that openly campaigns for specific parties. We don't have political advertising either, at least not monetary advertising (parties get fair broadcast time based on how "major" they are)

            The newspaper industry often takes sides (It's the Sun wot won it), but the broadcast industry is a haven of impartiality compared with the U.S. media (but then our TV in general is much less eye-clawing)

    • by Cornwallis (1188489) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @05:19AM (#41461451)

      Good censorship = censorship. Fuck you.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by 91degrees (207121)
        Yes, but libel laws, prohibitions on death threats, and prohibitions on publishing government secrets are also censorship. Censorship itself is just a label. Calling something that doesn't automatically make it bad.
        • by rtb61 (674572)

          Google however has to be notified of these violations. Each and every violation has to be discovered, reported and confirmed. A you tube video can be re-released at depth throughout the world and Brazil only has jurisdiction over publication and readership within Brazil and definitely more on the publication side and far less on the readership side. So if the video is uploaded outside of Brazil and read by people outside of Brazil then Brazil has zero jurisdiction.

          What really needs to happen is a differe

          • by erroneus (253617)

            Seriously true.

            This is the new media we are talking about here. It is wider and busier and less controlable than ever before. The mob is the media. Let's consider how we control such media. It's pretty hard to imagine already. Let's get our news from 4chan.

          • by jbolden (176878)

            What distinguishes a political ad from a political opinion from a philosophical opinion?

            • In any of those cases someone could be lying... and there may not be time to counter the lie before the election.

              I'm not saying that limiting speech in this way is necessarily the answer. I am saying that it's worth serious discussion.

              And the discussion this far has been pointless bickering.

        • by jbolden (176878)

          But regardless what the 1st Amendment protects is speech based on ideas. It is perfectly legal to publish government secrets, which is why the NYTimes or the Guardian were fine in the wikileaks case. What is illegal is to pass information to unauthorized agencies. Death threats are speech which doesn't have particular idea content but rather are actions. That can be regulated.

          As for libel laws. Libel laws here are rather loose the burden of proof is very high, high enough that in practice they are rare

      • case in point pornography is recognized as to be limited to certain class of ages, and various type of media are limited by ages. Also you can't yell fire in theater, another good type of censorship and similar. Finally libel laws are certainly limitation and therefor censorship of some type of speech, and in some country if you swear and insult a policeman you can get fined. In such a case , the censorship is to make sure *everybody* is on the same level shortly before the election, without a media blitz.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          "case in point pornography is recognized as to be limited to certain class of ages, and various type of media are limited by ages"

          That doesn't mean any of this is actually good though. It's such a controversal subject that no one's really got the balls to study it, but those that have have suggested that just as controlled provision of drugs to addicts is a better way to ween them off it than simply trying to ban the substance outright, that working with paedophiles and controlling their access to this sort

          • "case in point pornography is recognized as to be limited to certain class of ages, and various type of media are limited by ages"

            That doesn't mean any of this is actually good though.

            It's actually wrong, too. We have pornography for 12 year old girls. Go to your local Barnes & Noble and you will find books like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Sucking Huge Werewolf Dong.

        • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @08:08AM (#41462303) Homepage

          Pornography. I'm still not so sure pornography is bad.

          We like to watch entertainment of the things we like or are interested in. We watch food shows. No one has a problem with that. We watch beauty contests. No one... okay, 'few' have a problem with that. Olympics? Fishing? Golf? Fighting!! You name it; if someone likes it, there's a form of entertainment which will be produced about it. But because it involves sex, a rather basic and extremely universal pleasure in the animal world, we have to say "oh no..."

          What we fear, dislike or disapprove of about sex has more to do with religious and social values than anything else. Remove those from the equation and you will see less "forbidden fruit." Suddenly people aren't making unsubstantiated claims like "it harms children!" You know what harms children? Curiosity which isn't managed by adults. Knives, fire, fireworks, guns, heights, roads and streets... sex isn't quite as dangerous as any of those other things and yet somehow we are more concerned over whether or not they know what their 'things' are for than just about anything else.

      • by DrXym (126579)

        Good censorship = censorship. Fuck you.

        Many countries legally impose a moratorium or broadcasters impose a code of conduct prior to an election to ensure it is as free and fair as possible. So as to provide voters with a period of reflection prior to the vote and to stop last minute electioneering and underhanded tactics that could adversely affect the outcome. e.g. one candidate tweets that another has dropped out the race, or is a child molestor etc. But oh its censorship so it's bad right?

        • by Entropius (188861)

          There is a big difference between censorship and the prosecution of fraud.

        • by jbolden (176878)

          As an American... yes I'd rather the government not get to decide who is allowed to say what at any point, particularly laws that can be applied to politicians. I don't know how restrictions on speech make things more "free". I could see an argument for "fair", since these sorts of tactics can influence elections on the margins.

          • by DrXym (126579)
            Moratoriums / embargos are put in place for the reasons I cited, to stop news and media or individuals involved with the elections from interfering with an election in progress. It's also why certain actions might be criminal offences in the context of an election that otherwise would just be garden variety civil law, e.g. making a false statement about a candidate's character or behaviour could be a criminal offence instead of slander.

            Can't speak of all companies but in the UK and Ireland it's not the go

      • by DanielHC (623431)

        Good censorship = censorship. Fuck you.

        As a brazilian, I second you. The laws this judge is applying are the same that, in past elections, prohibited comedians to make jokes about candidates. It's just plain stupid censorship.

      • by Pieroxy (222434)

        So in your view noone can be blamed for the consequences of their speech?

        Let's say I take a 5 years old, I convince him that jumping out of the window is safe and I watch him do it. I would not be guilty of anything in regard of the law? After all, I just talked to the boy! That has to be legal!

        And if your answer is that I would be found guilty, it means my speech can bring me to jail, so in effect, I do not benefit from free speech since I can be jailed for saying something a judge find objectionable.

        Let m

      • by gwolf (26339)

        In countries where this kind of bans are enacted, private actors are not censored. People are not forbidden to speak their minds. However, *political parties*, being the actors in controversy, are public figures subject to laws.
        There is another law, at least here in Mexico, that requires groups running political advertisements to clearly identify themselves - This, because in 2006 we had many "black campaign" ads on TV (on a multimillionary contract) that were not "signed" by any identifiable actor, and wer

      • I'm a very strong advocate of free speech and personal liberty.

        I can still see a case to be made for a limitation on "political" speech immediately leading up to a vote. It would have to be of very limited scope. But there could be great benefit. Some of the abuses mentioned here would be prevented: e.g. not giving a candidate time to respond, rallying near polling stations to prevent voters, etc.

        There ARE other beneficial limitations on speech. On their merits they tend to provide more pros than cons.

        Indee

    • by Xtense (1075847)

      I disagree whether the censorship is good or whether good censorship actually exists. I understand the existence of pre-election silence laws (though I may not entirely understand why they're there in the first place - wouldn't it be better to be able to inform yourself about whom you might vote on no matter the period of the voting process? But that's beside the point), but in this case local laws are used to enforce upon content hosted outside the country, which just isn't acceptable. You could make the t

      • by sumdumass (711423) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @06:10AM (#41461717) Journal

        Several things here. Google has offices within the local jurisdiction making them culpable for violations of it. Google can likely restrict access to IP's outside the country like they did with that movie trailer thing a week or so ago. We know they have the ability and they have done it already.

        Nothing is to stop you from copying the video and posting it everywhere you can find. The companies that have offices within the country that has local jurisdiction will have to remove it or face the same problems as Google it. The services and companie who do not have local offices can ignore the mandates, law and so on unless they plan on visiting and/or opening local offices up within that jurisdiction in the future. Unless some sort of international treaty with a country they have offices within provides otherwise, Brazil can fine and issue arrest warrant all day long on people not within their jurisdiction and nothing can be done about it outside that unless the companies get within their jurisdiction somehow- invasion, treaty, visiting the country, opening shop within the country and so on..

        Now on to censorship. Please do not confuse the right to free speech with a mandate that someone provide you a platform or stage for that speech. If a company has offices in a country and doing business within that country, they are obliged to follow the local laws of the country. If that means blocking access to a video on their servers or removing it entirely, then they have to do it or suffer the penalties of breaking the laws. Google already censors a lot of stuff voluntarily- Google already complies with local laws in certain area they have offices in. It's not a big deal for them to comply with this.

        • by Xtense (1075847)

          So what you're saying is that i could upload some anti-government stuff onto Youku or whatever is China's Youtube equivalent and the company would be liable just by virtue of residing in the local jurisdiction, even if the country of origin of the upload and the hosting servers themselves were outside the country?

          Unacceptable.

          I understand how it works NOW, but to me this is a critical case of legal vacuum, where current laws do not accurately reflect reality - punishing the carrier for something that is exp

          • by sumdumass (711423)

            So what you're saying is that i could upload some anti-government stuff onto Youku or whatever is China's Youtube equivalent and the company would be liable just by virtue of residing in the local jurisdiction, even if the country of origin of the upload and the hosting servers themselves were outside the country?

            Unacceptable.

            Lets look at it in a little more obvious way. Suppose you live in England and ask me to help you do something. That something is to have merchandise ordered from the internet delivered

            • by Xtense (1075847)

              So let's see here: in your example, the actual laws broken are:

              Using stolen credit cards (only i am liable, since i am the buyer, the connections originated from my computer and i accepted the transaction, you weren't involved in the buying process in any way - and, also, this is a crime in both countries, which a major and important difference in our case).
              Tax dodging (we're both liable in theory, depends too much on individual import/VAT laws - not applicable in our case since packets are not dutiable)
              Wil

              • by sumdumass (711423)

                The basis of it all is that the Internet does not translate well to real life, and, as such, requires a whole new set of laws to accurately represent what is actually happening between computers.

                Not really new laws but common sense on existing laws. The first analogy failed but it didn't fail. Google, who is making the video available, is located within the jurisdiction of the country with the laws, and they are breaking real laws- even if they are ridiculous laws.

                Now: accessing the video.
                And i understand t

                • by Xtense (1075847)

                  And basically here is the crux of the problem the politicians seem to have with the Internet - they literally treat it as a singularly-owned company that can be strongarmed to subscribe to their notions of legality.

                  I really like your example of AM/FM radio stations, because it is much more closer to how the Internet functions than how a TV station might. Sure, if needed, the Internet can be limited, or even cut off entirely to an area of a country - this is within the realm of economically viable technical

        • Now on to censorship. Please do not confuse the right to free speech with a mandate that someone provide you a platform or stage for that speech

          Sorry, but that's a straw man. If a "platform or stage" (ie: YouTube) is being constrained by law from broadcasting material, then it most definitely a case of free speech, not of an individual demanding they be provided with a channel.

          You can argue whether it's justified in this case, and as others have noted, there are legitimate reasons for certain types of speech in certain situations to be restricted. But it most definitely a free speech issue.

          • by sumdumass (711423)

            Sorry, but that's a straw man. If a "platform or stage" (ie: YouTube) is being constrained by law from broadcasting material, then it most definitely a case of free speech, not of an individual demanding they be provided with a channel.

            Well, it is. If it is illegal to block the road, set up and amplifier, and start preaching one Monday morning while everyone is trying to get to work, then doing it would be illegal. You are still being constrained by a law- it makes no difference how free or what speech it w

    • by argStyopa (232550)

      It's a difficult case; I can easily see this becoming an abusive precedent, where pernicious lawsuits are filed just to block Google/Youtube access to LEGITIMATE information on the web about a candidate.

      It seems absurd on the face of it to suggest that it's Google's responsibility to block access to specific data in specific regions according to their local election schedule. If my local town of 1000 people has a mayoral election, can we 'insist' that Google block politically relevant (whatever that mean?)

    • HA HA Look at the third world shitholes struggle with lack of free speech! You are never going to get off your tiny island if you keep it up!

      Google should just shut off their entire net-block forever. Let them rot in the dark without information.

    • by pla (258480)
      Google is intentionally breaking laws here and should be punished.

      BS. "Google" has not, intentionally or not, done anything here. Some Brazilian citizen has chosen to violate their laws, try going after the actual problem.

      Consider this from a slightly different angle - If Google had no official presence in Brazil, how would this headline read? Hint - More along the lines of a Great Firewall style pissing-in-the-wind, than some sort of BS "arrest the messenger" attack on free speech.


      Dear Brazil (a
    • by jbolden (176878)

      At least from the article this is not a 24 ban but rather a generalized law which prohibits negative treatments of candidates.

      The USA has problems with financing related issues but I don't think there is anything good about generalized bans on negative advertising during a campaign. One of the nice things about US elections is with most any candidate for major office their opponent tells me all the bad stuff about them.

    • Since it's just 24 hours, it really just seems to ban it right before elections and is not some penalty on Google or Youtube.

      If it is just 24 hours, why was Google already judged guilt? I mean, the elections are still 5 days ahead.

  • Obligatory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xtense (1075847) <xtense@o2BALDWIN.pl minus author> on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @05:59AM (#41461663) Homepage

    I hate trotting out this quote every so often, but...

    "As the Americans learned so painfully in Earth's final century, free flow of information is the only safeguard against tyranny. The once-chained people whose leaders at last lose their grip on information flow will soon burst with freedom and vitality, but the free nation gradually constricting its grip on public discourse has begun its rapid slide into despotism. Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master."

    Commissioner Pravin Lal
    "U.N. Declaration of Rights"

    From Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri.

    • by guises (2423402)
      I don't know about this particular law, but laws regarding promotional material for elections (or defamatory material) are generally there to help prevent corruption. Same applies to campaign finance, which is essentially the same thing. If you're an American in the last few years after Citizens United, you've seen how quickly things can go south when the gloves are completely removed.

      It's nice to have an absolute ideal to quote and strive for, but the absolute usually fails in the real world.
      • Re:Obligatory (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Xtense (1075847) <xtense@o2BALDWIN.pl minus author> on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @07:05AM (#41461985) Homepage

        We have almost exactly the same laws as Brazil over here in Poland regarding the pre-election period (the so-called "Electorial Silence", where no campaigning is permitted). Since recovering from the USSR, the only thing this law was good for is getting the tv and radio to STFU. Meanwhile, corruption during this period ran rampant - the currently ruling party was almost always running its shady business during this period, while the opposing parties were buying votes and otherwise screwing with the voting process. They were caught multiple times, but due to the law, it was forbidden to report on it during this period.

        So no, I don't think this is actually a very good law.

      • by jbolden (176878)

        I'm an American. It is unclear to me after Citizen's United if things went south or not. The positives don't tend to get reported. As unlimited donations to superpacs have become the norm, the $500 / plate dinners have started disappearing. The petty corruption of raising money for ads that every congressmen was subject to have decreased. I don't like the whims of individual billionaires being news worthy, but OTOH the whims of billionaires are far less undermining to genuine democracy than millionai

        • I'm honestly quite happy with what Citizen's United is doing to our system.

          I'm sorry, I'm really sorry, but you're an idiot.

          adding money, to this amount, to politics is ONLY wrong. there is no up-side to it.

          I've been watching bill moyers the last few weeks and its informative to see just HOW BADLY we are doing under C.U.

          anyone who thinks this was not a purchased law is either really evil themselves or incredibly stupid.

  • by captainpanic (1173915) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @06:02AM (#41461677)

    Good job, Brazil: If they don't listen to the law, give them a fine high enough that it's relevant, and arrest the responsible people.

    I'm not choosing sides whether this is good or bad censorship. I'm just delighted that they have the balls to stand up to large companies. Not every country does that... and in almost every case the responsible management get away with it without any punishment. Most punishments are fines, which will just slightly reduce profit. Arresting the management might get their attention.

    • I would like to agree with you. But as a Brazilian I am sorry to inform you that it is merely another case of our judges who think they are gods and wanting to show who is the boss (but without the necessary competence to do so). If the case involved a "mere ordinary mortal" like me, they would not do anything about
  • from the linked article:

    Brazil’s electoral law has several restrictions on what opponents or critics can air on television and radio about candidates for office — even comedic needling of politicians is banned during electoral season. The Internet’s role in these cases, until now, was not legally explored, as the government does not license the internet and was considered by most exempt from the law.

    ...In the northeastern state of Paraiba, a judge also ordered the imprisonment of another Google executive in Brazil earlier this month, also for not removing videos from YouTube attacking a mayoral candidate. That order was overruled by a higher court.

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