Google Chief Arrested In Brazil For Video Violations
September 27, 2012

Google Chief Arrested In Brazil For Video Violations

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Google´s head of operations in Brazil is under some heat after refusing to remove YouTube videos which violate local electoral law.

A Brazilian court had ordered the content to be removed on Tuesday. One day later, the videos remained up and Fábio José Coelho was detained and questioned. A police statement to the press said they did not expect to detain Mr. Coelho for long and planned to release him later after he promised to sign an intent to appear in court.

The 2 user-uploaded videos in question allegedly slander one of the mayoral candidates running for office this November in the city of Campo Grande in Mato Grosse do Sul. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google promised to appeal the decision, holding onto their long-held beliefs that they are not responsible for the videos posted by their users.

In addition to arresting Mr. Coelho, the Brazilian court also ordered a 24-hour suspension of the local YouTube site, though details about how this would happen have yet to be announced.

“Google is providing clarification to legal authorities,” said a Google spokesperson in São Paulo to Reuters.

“Google is appealing the decision that ordered the removal of the video on YouTube because, as a platform, Google is not responsible for the content posted to its site,” continued the company´s spokesperson on Wednesday after the announcement of Mr. Coelho´s arrest.

Though Google clearly believes it isn't responsible for giving the people of Brazil a platform on which to speak their minds, the courts aren´t yet inclined to agree. Until Google removes the YouTube video, the court can still hold the company responsible for its crimes against local law, which could earn Mr. Coelho up to one year in prison.

Google has run into trouble in other countries before for their unwillingness to censor the content published by their users. For example, Brazil ordered Google, just last year, to remove some 11,500 photos posted on their social site, Orkut. These photos also violated their electoral law, though it´s not clear if Google actually removed these photos, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Earlier this month, Google did agree to block a YouTube video in Egypt and Libya after “ultraconservative Muslims” stormed the US embassy in Cairo and Libyan protestors burned the US consulate to the ground, killing the US ambassador and three members of his staff, an Associated Press report said.

The video in question is a 14-minute long trailer for a low-budget movie called “Innocence of Muslims” which portrays the prophet Muhammad in a very negative light.

Google opted to leave the video posted on their website, but had it blocked in Egypt and Libya. In an unprecedented move, Google felt it necessary to comment on the video, saying: "We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions.”

“This video – which is widely available on the web – is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube. However, given the very difficult situation in Libya and Egypt we have temporarily restricted access in both countries. Our hearts are with the families of the people murdered in yesterday's attack in Libya."