Judge Orders Google's Brazil Boss Arrested

Dennis Faas's picture

Google's top executive in Brazil has been released pending a court date. Fabio Jose Silva Coelhoto was arrested because the company defied a court order to take down YouTube videos some say slander a mayoral candidate.

The video clips reportedly suggest that a candidate in the city of Campo Grande has committed crimes. It's not clear at this point whether there is any truth to the allegations. However, local court actions suggests there is not.

Judge Flavio Peren ruled last week that the videos breached Brazilian election law and must be removed. Peren also ruled that YouTube access should be blocked within the city for 24 hours. (Source: wsj.com)

Arrest Ordered After Google Defies Court

When both the clips and the site remained available, the judge ordered that Coelho, be arrested. He has since been released after agreeing to appear in court to address the issue.

Google has now reluctantly agreed to remove the video, noting its policy of only removing clips with a valid court order.

Coelho said the person who uploaded the clip has now closed his account completely, something the Google chief says is evidence of the "chilling effect these episodes can have on free speech."

Broadcasting Restrictions Could Apply Online

In normal circumstances, the videos wouldn't be considered a problem. The politician being attacked would simply find recourse in launching a civil case against Google or the people responsible for the video.

However, during the run-up to elections Brazil's electoral laws heavily restrict the type of criticism political candidates are allowed to use in radio and television broadcasts. (Source: huffingtonpost.com)

To date, legal experts generally assumed these broadcasting laws can only be enforced against radio and TV stations, which must be licensed in the country. Most figured the rules would not be binding on websites.

If the result of this case is taken by courts to set a precedent, it could mean a significant change in the way that nation regulates Internet content.

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