Google Executive Could Face Charges in Brazil for YouTube Video

Google executive Fabio Jose Silva Coelho

On Wednesday, September 26, 2012, Google Inc.’s senior executive in Brazil, Fabio Jose Silva Coelho, was arrested for violating local election law because the company failed to take down a YouTube video that attacked a local mayoral candidate. A Brazilian elections judge ordered the video to be taken off YouTube and said that Coelho would be arrested and found to be responsible if the video was not removed. Coelho has since been released because he has agreed to cooperate with the case. Google is appealing this decision because YouTube is only a social platform and Google is not responsible for the content posted to its site.

This is not the first election law violation Google has dealt with. Earlier this month, there was an order issued for the arrest of another Google executive in Brazil on the same charge because the company refused to take down a YouTube video that mocked another Brazilian political candidate. The judge in this case overturned the order for the executive’s arrest because it determined that Google was not the author of the video and it did not upload the file.

It seems as if Google will be successful on the appeal but the company maintains its belief that the Internet should be used by everyone “…to freely express their opinions about candidates for political office, as a form of full exercise of democracy, especially during electoral campaigns.”

It seems as if Google has been under a lot of fire these days for the videos that users post on YouTube. The company has not only dealt with the above two cases in Brazil but has had many problems concerning an anti-Muslim video entitled “Innocence of Muslims” that has caused violent riots in the Middle East and censorship issues throughout the world. Google has not taken down the anti-Muslim video but it has blocked certain countries, such as Libya and Egypt, from viewing the video.

Do you think Google should take down these controversial videos? What do you think these issues with Google will mean for freedom of expression and censorship in other countries?

Sources: The New York Times, CNBC

Photo source: Los Angeles Times

One comment

  1. This is a murky issue because it involves an American company’s compliance with foreign laws. Does Google have the legal right to leave the video accessible in accordance with Brazilian law? That is what it looks like, according to this article, because the recent precedent stated that Google is not liable because they did not create the video in question, nor did they upload it themselves. The facts in this new case would be virtually identical on that issue. If Brazilian law allows it, they should absolutely leave the video up.

    However, if Google is in fact violating Brazilian law, I do not know if they have a right to break laws in their country in the name of free speech. At most, they could restrict the video so that no one in Brazil could view it. I am a massive supporter of free speech, but I do not think that Google can challenge Brazil’s sovereignty and defy their laws because they do not agree with them. If Brazil has a problem with free speech, Brazil needs to address it.

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