Arresting developments in Brazil for Google

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Last week Google proudly crowed that it had reached a rather significant milestone: it has one billion unique users per month. For the non-technical, that’s a lot, making it arguably the biggest social network in the world, ahead even of Facebook.

Much of its success stems from the fact that it’s a platform for people to declare their views on everything, from their excitement at the latest Justin Timberlake video, to their views on local politicians. It reflects, magnifies and influences opinion off all sorts and along with other social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter it has become synonymous with greatly influencing opinion in politically charged environments, such as the Arab spring on 2011.

However, in many countries the site has fallen foul of the law. Just today, Google has said it is going to fight a Brazilian court decision to charge the director of the site in the country with liability for videos posted on the site which were deemed offensive to a politician who was running for major. The videos revealed that the politician may have been guilty of crimes.

Incredibly, a local judge deemed that Google was fully liable for videos posted on its site and that as it had not taken the videos down in 24 hours as requested, Fabio Jose Silva Coelho, Google’s president in Brazil should be arrested.

Google argued that the videos represented free speech, but it seems that Brazil’s laws are somewhat behind the times when it comes to online media.

“We are deeply disappointed that we have never had the full opportunity to argue in court that these were legitimate free speech videos and should remain available in Brazil,” Google’s Brazil president Coelho said. “Despite all this, we will continue to campaign for free expression globally.”

This is in stark contrast to what we are used to in Europe. London’s major Boris Johnson has just facing a major grilling on the main national channel that accused him of being, “a nasty piece of work”, an interview that he himself described as, “splendid”. In contrast to the Brazilian’s courts attitude, Johnson said that the interviewer Eddie Mair was, “perfectly within his rights to have a bash at me – in fact it would have been shocking if he hadn’t. If a BBC presenter can’t attack a nasty Tory politician, what’s the world coming to?”

The government here isn’t after the head of the BBC for the interview, but in Brazil, Coelho is facing being locked up. It seems that while the broadband networks around the world get ever more developed and advanced, the local laws are taking a little while to catch up.

To get a chance to debate these issues face to face with operators and carriers in the region then you need to be at the Broadband LATAM conference taking place on 2 – 3 July 2013 at the Grand Hyatt, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Click here to download a brochure.

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