Brazil Applies Ethical Screws on Google Over Suspect Site

28 August 2006

BRASILIA: The weight of the Brazilian legal system has been brought to bear on search giant Google, amid claims that its social networking website promotes crime and child pornography.

The country's federal prosecutors want a judge to order Google's Brazilian unit to disclose additional information about users of Orkut, or face the threat of closure.

Government lawyers are seeking the imposition of a Real 200,000 ($93k; €72k; £49k) daily fine until Google provides the data, plus R130 million in "moral damages" from the company.

But Google spokeswoman Nicole Wong contends the firm has met all requirements. "We have obeyed all judicial orders that requested we remove undue content. Some orders demanded that we turn over user information for investigation and we have complied."

However, Google claims that, because data about Orkut members is stored on its servers in the US, it can comply only with requests made to its US operations.

Orkut is Latin America's biggest social networking site, with around 20 million registered users, of whom nearly three-quarters are in Brazil.

Google came under fire earlier this year over its cave-in to Chinese authorities seeking to censor search content [WAMN: 26-Jan-06] about subjects deemed unsuitable for the country's internet users.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff