Brazilian court orders arrest of Google official over YouTube video


(FILES)This January 11, 2011 screen imageshows the Google logo in Washington,DC. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
September 26, 2012

A court in Brazil has ordered the arrest of a Google executive after the company refused to take down videos that criticized a candidate for mayor of the city of Campo Grande.

According to the Associated Press, the court ordered the arrest of Google executive Fabio Jose Silva Coelho because the company did not remove the videos the government claims run afoul of South America’s pre-vote election laws. As of Wednesday morning, he has not been arrested.

The court ordered Google to take down the videos and called for a statewide suspension of Google and YouTube, the report said.

In a statement to The Washington Post, Google said it is “appealing a court’s decision to remove a video from YouTube because, as a platform, we are not responsible for the content uploaded to our site.”

Earlier in the month, a judge in southern Brazil ordered Google to pay a fine for separate videos about a candidate, while a judge in northeastern Brazil ordered the arrest of another official, the report said. That arrest order was overruled by a higher court.

In February 2010, four Google executives, including the company’s current chief legal officer, David Drummond, and global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer, were indicted by the Italian government after a court ruled that a video posted on YouTube had broken privacy laws. Three of the four Google executives in the case were then given a six-month suspended sentence.

After the indictment, Google posted a blog post noting that the Google executives were not responsible for making, posting or reviewing the video in question. In that case, however, the video was in violation of YouTube standards and was taken down after a request from police.

Google, and particularly YouTube, has increasingly been put in the position of having to navigate the thorny issue of free speech in countries across the world. Most recently, YouTube made the decision to voluntarily block access to an anti-Muslim video in Libya and Egypt and to comply with government take-down requests from India and Indonesia to comply with local laws. The AP reported that a judge in Sao Paolo also ordered YouTube to remove the same video or face daily fines of $5,000.

Google has said it does not take responsibility for the content of videos posted to its site — at a rate of 72 hours per minute, at last count — and that it promptly reacts to requests to take down videos that violate its community standards.

These standards forbid videos of gratuitous violence, abuse or underage drug use, hate speech, “predatory behavior,” spam and clips that violate copyrights.

Related stories:

Google’s restricting of anti-Muslim video shows role of Web firms as free-speech arbiters

Court in Sao Paulo orders YouTube to take down anti-Islam film or face $5,000 a day fine

Judge denies actress’ request to take down YouTube clip for anti-Muslim film blamed for deaths

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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