Brazil has agreed to block a controversial YouTube video that criticized Brazilian mayoral candidate in Campo Grande.
“Late last night, we learned that our final legal appeal has been denied and so now we have no choice but to block the video in Brazil,” said Fabio Jose Silva Coelho, country director of Google Brazil, wrote in a company blog post. “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.”
The decision came after Coelho was detained for violating a judge’s order to take down the videos, which target Brazilian political candidates. He was released shortly after being questioned on Wednesday. He agreed to appear in court instead.
Google does not agree with the judge who found the video clips violate Brazilian election laws that forbid personal criticism of candidates during an election, the Washington Post is reporting. While the offensive video was reportedly removed by the same user who posted it, Coelho believes this move reflects a “chilling fact” impacting freedom of speech 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,” wrote Coelho. “Despite all this, we will continue to campaign for free expression globally.”
Brazil’s election laws, which limit what critics can say about candidates, can lead to media outlets paying fines if violated.
“Our laws trying to govern the Internet are outdated,” explained Jose Guilherme Zagallo, head of the Brazilian bar association’s commission focusing on information technology law. “It’s not clear who is responsible for content, and that creates uncertainty for Internet companies, users and judges, who are left to interpret laws not written for the Internet.”
Previously, another Brazilian court ordered the video servicing site to remove clips of anti-Islam film, “Innocence of Muslims,” which has been blamed for violent protests by Muslims in the Middle East.
According to a summary released by Google in June, Brazilian government agencies have submitted 194 content removal requests during the final half of last year. Google is also stating they’ve completed 54 percent of those request in the last half of 2011. Submitted removal requests include YouTube, social networking site Orkut, charges of defamation, and child pornography.
In response to the arrest, Coelho emphasized in his post that YouTube should serve as an opportunity for all users to engage in and speak freely.
“Our goal is for YouTube to be a community that everyone can enjoy, as well as a platform for free speech around the world,” said Coelho.
Coelho is scheduled to appear in court at an undetermined time.
With reporting from The Associated Press.