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Wednesday 17 August 2011

Patricia Covarrubia

Google is an uncontrollable monster!

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Brazil, 15 August, Google Brazil Internet Ltda. brought an appeal to the Brazilian Superior Court of Justice (STJ) for having been obliged by a lower court to remove offensive content placed in Orkut - a social network and discussion site operated by Google.

The party affected, a health specialist in Rio Grande do Sul, claimed the removal of all offensive messages and images. It is claimed that the doctor suffered a wave of attacks on the network and he tried to use an existing tool on the site to prevent the transmission of the defamatory messages. The tool, however, did not allow the exclusion of all messages against him. He asked also for compensation for moral and material damage.

Google however claimed that it would be impossible to scan the network for defamatory content against the party affected and thus, claimed that the doctor should have provided the email address of the attackers and indicate the measures to be censored.

The company also argued that if they proceed to remove the content, this would violate the freedom of expression. Moreover, it mentions that there is no legislation requiring Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to exert control of content placed on the Internet.

The Fourth Class of the Supreme Court did not consider the liability of the ISP. It only found that Google is obliged to delete the defamatory content of the pages struck against the victim, even without the provision of accurate email addresses from him.

The rapporteur, Luis Felipe Minister Solomon, considered that the lack of technical tools to correct problems does not exempt the company to seek solutions. "If Google has created an uncontrollable monster, it is only to be charged for any consequences generated by the lack of control users have of its social network," he said. Offensive messages could be captured by programming mechanisms or by a specialized staff, he added.

Yet, the responsibility is not automatic and does not occur at the time the message is posted on the network. The civil liability depends on the conduct, taking into consideration its responsibility and the damage experienced by others.

Process: REsp 1175675

Patricia Covarrubia

Patricia Covarrubia