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Brazil Gives Google Two Weeks to Turn Over User Data - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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SAO PAULO (AFP) -Brazilian authorities have given Google Brazil 15 days to turn over user information from websites that promote criminal activity, threatening the company with 23,000 dollars in daily fines if they do not comply.

Filed through a district court in Sao Paulo, the judicial order on Thursday noted that Google had so far “unsatisfactorily met” investigators’ data requirements, preventing them from identifying criminal elements using the Internet service.

The government, monitoring online messages for possible crimes, wants the US company to turn over users’ personal information to curb violence, racism, discrimination, pornography and child abuse.

Should Google Brazil refuse to comply fully with the demand, the judicial order provides for levying a 23,000-dollar fine for each day of non-compliance.

Orkut, a Google online community website that allows friends to keep in touch and network, for months has been at the center of the debate between Brazilian and Google officials in Congressional hearings.

Thursday’s judicial order also targets Orkut for refusing to give up the identities of suspected online criminals. The interior minister is asking for 61 million dollars — one percent of Google’s worldwide gross income in 2005 — in “collective moral damage” it insists Orkut has inflicted.

In addition, it also threatens hefty daily fines and to shut down Orkut in Brazil if Google refuses to comply.

In May, Google promised to shut down Orkut webpages that condoned crime and other unlawful activities, and to turn over the data authorities were asking for.

Some of the webpages Orkut carried included the Capital’s First Commando, which authorities blame for a bloody rampage of violence in Sao Paulo that has killed more than 180 people, including police officers.

Police had also complained that Orkut hosted webpages for neo-Nazi groups and child pornography.

Google general counsel David Drummond in April told a congressional committee that the company could be sanctioned in other countries if it turned over users’ personal information to Brazilian authorities.

The profiles of Orkut users are kept in servers in the United States and Britain, Drummond said.

The California-based company has also cited concerns over user privacy rights in a legal battle with US authorities seeking information on web searches on the Google website.

Earlier this year, a US judge ordered Google to turn over some data on sites in its popular search engine, though much less than the US government wanted.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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