Brazil arrests Google boss over YouTube video

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The president of Google Brazil has been arrested over a YouTube video that criticizes a mayoral candidate, breaking local electoral law.

Fabio José Silva Coelho has been released on bail, and Google intends to fight the charges. He was arrested after the company refused to take down two videos which Judge Flavio Peren described as insulting and defamatory. In Brazil, it's an offense to violate a person's dignity during an election.

The judge also ordered that the site should be shut down for 24 hours in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

In other words, after someone had posted questionable videos, the law came down on none other than the middleman," says Adi Kamdar of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

"Simply for hosting an allegedly defamatory video, it seems absurd for a judge to order Google to be shut down for a day—and on top of that for an executive to get arrested. Brazil proves once again why countries around the world need strong intermediary safe harbor laws like those in the United States."

Earlier this month, another Google exec was arrested in the state of Paraná over a similar video, although that ruling was overturned. But Brazil's consistently been one of the countries that makes the most requests for Google takedowns, currently standing right at the top of the list.

In December last year, after a government request, Google removed four Orkut profiles over electoral issues.

The Brazilian government is currently considering a bill, Marco Civil, that would provide more protection for internet freedom and freedom of speech.

"We believe this is the most important vote in the history of the internet in Brazil, and we hope that each congressman will do his part," wrote Google Brazil's  director of public policy and government relations, Marcel Leonardi, last week.

"we believe this is the best way for the Brazilian internet - a path built collaboratively, seeking fair regulation and without curtailment of individual liberties."