Google Blocks Brazil Videos
September 28, 2012

Google Backs Down In Brazil, Blocks Video

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Earlier this week, Google´s head of operations in Brazil was briefly detained after his company refused to remove two user-uploaded videos from YouTube. The videos in question allegedly slander a candidate in the mayoral race of Campo Grande in Mato Grosse do Sul. Google had promised to appeal the decision, maintaining their long-held belief that they, as a company, are not responsible for user-uploaded videos.

Google, it seems, has had a change of heart, announcing on Thursday they had blocked the politically charged videos from the Brazilian YouTube site.

Fabio Coelho, the detained executive, wrote about the decision in the Google Brazil blog. According to the Wall Street Journal, though Mr. Coelho had appealed the court´s order, this move was ultimately denied. In the end, said Mr. Coelho, Google had no other legal option but to block the videos from being seen by those in Brazil.

“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," writes Mr. Coelho.

The Brazilian court ordered Mr. Coelho detained on Tuesday over his companies refusal to remove the videos.

“Nonetheless, we will continue our global campaign for freedom of expression - not only because this is a premise of free societies, but also because more information generally means more choice, more power, better economic opportunities and more freedom for the people,” wrote Mr. Coelho. He also points out soon after the video was blocked, the same user who had originally posted the troublesome video removed it from the site just before closing their account, a move which Mr. Coelho says “shows the effects of bullying episode for free expression.”

Brazil doesn´t only want slanderous videos of their own politicians taken down, however.

According to CNET, another Brazilian court is asking Google to also remove the very controversial trailer for “Innocence of Muslims,” a movie as poorly made as it is ill informed and incendiary.

Google recently had to block this video in the Middle East after protests and demonstrations by “ultra conservative Muslims” led to the storming of the U.S. embassy in Cairo and the burning of the U.S. consulate in Libya. In the latter attack, the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three members of his staff were killed as a result.

While this video is still viewable in other parts of the world, users in the Middle East are not able to see it. Google justified their actions regarding this specific incident, saying: “We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions.”

The YouTube owner now has 10 days to remove the video in Brazil or face a fine of $5,000 for every day the video remains accessible.

One man behind “Innocence of the Muslims,” Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, was ordered to be arrested on Thursday after violating probation which stems from a 2010 charge of check fraud. Nakoula, an Egyptian Christian, is said to be a high-flight risk. While the full story of the film is unknown, Nakoula has said he was involved in the logistics of the film. The actors said they were fooled into being involved in the film, saying they were hired for a film called “Desert Warrior,” and said the scripts had no mention of Islam or Muhammad.