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?
Photo source: Los Angeles Times