Brazilian court bans anti-Islam film from YouTube

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Brazil’s strict electoral laws restrict what critics can say on television and radio about candidates for office. Ahead of municipal elections next month, Google has received repeatedly requests to remove videos that violate those restrictions, and on Tuesday, a judge in Mato Grosso do Sul state ordered the arrest of the head of Google’s operations in Brazil for failure to take down YouTube videos that attacked a mayoral candidate.

That ruling also included an order to remove the videos, which make incendiary comments about an alleged paternity suit aimed at a mayoral candidate in the city of Campo Grande, as well as statewide, 24-hour suspension of Google and YouTube.

Google said in an emailed statement on Tuesday that it was appealing the decision. “Being a platform, Google is not responsible for the content posted on its site,” the company said in an emailed statement from Sao Paulo.

Earlier, a judge in the southern state of Paranal ordered Google to pay $500,000 for each day that it balked at fulfilling an order to remove other videos criticizing a candidate. In the northeastern state of Paraiba, a judge also ordered the imprisonment of another Google executive in Brazil, also for not removing videos from YouTube attacking a mayoral candidate. That order was overruled by a higher court.

Galperin said called the rash of Brazilian cases was “disappointing, but not surprising” ahead of the country’s nationwide municipal elections on Oct. 7 and Oct. 28.

“The Internet is global, but laws are made nation by nation,” she said. “There is a struggle between nation states and their laws and the freedom of expression policies of companies that host content all over the globe.”

Google has said it’s been so inundated by requests by governments worldwide to remove online content that it has begun releasing a summary of the demands, most relating to legitimate attempts to enforce laws on issues ranging from personal privacy to hate speech. But Google, which has been locked in a high-profile battle with China’s leaders over online censorship in the communist nation since 2010, says it increasingly fields requests from government agencies trying to use their power to suppress political opinions and other material they don’t like.

Brazilian governmental agencies alone submitted a total of 194 content removal requests during the final half of last year, according to a summary released in June. Running just behind that was the United States, where police, prosecutors, courts and other government agencies submitted 187 requests to remove content over the same period.

Brazil and other parts of Latin America are crucial to Google’s growth strategy. Company executives have said that Latin America is the country’s fastest-growing market.

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AP Technology Writer Michael Liedtke contributed to this report from San Francisco.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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