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Google Brazil Pressured to Give Up Names 263

Kordau writes "Google Brazil is under pressure to release user info from Orkut, relating to a child porn investigation by the Brazilian government. Google Brazil maintains that the info officials want is held on US servers and if they want the info, they should talk to Google USA."
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Google Brazil Pressured to Give Up Names

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  • by Whiney Mac Fanboy ( 963289 ) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @10:18AM (#15962713) Homepage Journal
    There is a much better reuters article here [smh.com.au] - I suggest you read that rather than the linked article.

    The first four paragraphs of the article contain the story (not too much there) - the rest is fluff - and inaccurate fluff at that - I'm going to go completely OT to look at some of the absurdities it contains:

    The Brazilian case highlights an issue that has been brewing for sometime over the information that search engine and other internet companies keep on their databases about their users.

    No, it doesn't highlight that - the cases are not similar in any form, other than both involving large internet companies

    The recent blunder made by AOL in which the internet company erroneously published 20 million search requests....

    Erroneously? AOL deliberately published the search requests.

    Early this year, Google successfully defended a subpoena from the US Department of Justice to hand over its data in another child porn investigation case.

    Calling that a "Child porn investigation case" is one of the most misleading statements I've ever heard. It was a "porn on the 'net fishing expedition."
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No, it doesn't highlight that - the cases are not similar in any form, other than both involving large internet companies...AOL deliberately published the search requests.

      The cases are extremely similar in that they highlight the risks of internet companies *HOLDING* that data.

      Personally, I think it's not that bad for AOL to have released the relatively limited data they had; and I think it's not that bad for Brazil to be going after actual criminals with whatever tools they have available.

      The probl

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      These types of flagrant journalistic errors often occur in child pornography-related stories. Accurate facts seemingly become lost in a windstorm of "Think of the children!" eye-grabbing statements.

      I, for one, sincerely wish that child porn never existed, not so much for any concern I have for the brats, but more because the damn stuff seems to be single-handedly ending any semblance of privacy on the internet.
    • by morcego ( 260031 ) * on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @10:53AM (#15963016)
      I second you on that one.

      Just because Google owns Orkut doesn't mean this case has anything to do with search engines.
      It is Orkut the brazilian government is attacking, not Google Search. Because Google Inc owns Orkut, the government is asking it to take action.

      This case has been brewing around here for about 2 years, in and out of the news and all that. This particular issue of Google Brasil (which is pretty much just a comercial branch office) refusing to hand the information is at least 6 months old. Some news.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Pat69 ( 588497 )
      The recent blunder made by AOL in which the internet company erroneously published 20 million search requests....
      Erroneously? AOL deliberately published the search requests.

      Just because it was deliberate, doesn't mean it wasn't also an error.
    • The recent blunder made by AOL in which the internet company erroneously published 20 million search requests....

      Erroneously? AOL deliberately published the search requests.

      I do not think that word means what you think it means.

      Releasing the records was an error. A mistake. It was erroneous.

      If you don't know what a word means, look it up before you rail against a particular use.

      • Releasing the records was an error. A mistake. It was erroneous.

        Well, that's true - in retrospect, it was a mistake. However, describing the deliberate release of the records as 'erroneous' mischaracterises the event. If I was going to sum up the deliberate release of user's data without their permission, I wouldn't use the word 'erroneous'.
        • by binkzz ( 779594 )
          "Well, that's true - in retrospect, it was a mistake. "

          I think you mean: it was erroneous.
  • by way2trivial ( 601132 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @10:20AM (#15962726) Homepage Journal
    I think they should have to cough it up, if they want to do business in brazil.

    in the US, a us branch of a large company gets slammed with multiple subpeonas and searches and requests for eveything the DA can arrange to harrass the US branch (and ultimately the parent company) of a multinational when they want data held outside the country.. and in some cases, it's justified and the only leverage for a necassary investigation.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pembo13 ( 770295 )
      Why should an innocent company (forgetting that this is Google) be forced to give up information unless they are the one under investigation for wrong doing, unless the company is government funded of course?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by diersing ( 679767 )
        How does it differ from Telephone and Bank records being sought by investigators when the telephone or bank are the subject of the investigation?
      • Because many people now beleive if you are not helping them then you can only be a criminal.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @10:28AM (#15962793)
      I think they should have to cough it up, if they want to do business in brazil.

      No company can afford to lose a brazillian customers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by m0rph3us0 ( 549631 )
      It's not hard to go through the proper channels to supeona information regarding criminal prosecution. Google Brazil is a separate entity from Google USA. Google Brazil CAN'T be forced to give up the information because it doesn't have it. It's like if I moved to Brazil and they supeona'd me for information my father had. It isn't mine to give up, not to mention I don't have it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ack154 ( 591432 )
        I think this is what most people missing in the article... everyone is saying that they should just give up the info and be done with it.

        It's not that Google Brazil WON'T hand over the info. They CAN'T hand it over, because they don't have it. Apparently the Brazillian goverment thinks otherwise though...
        • Doh! You think a commercial branch from Google in Brazil is so independent from our Google Inc.?

          Legally that may be the case, but saying they don't have that info b/c it's stored in the US is just a way to buy some time.

          The way I see it, Google is just trying to be perceived as responsible with private information of its users, but it's forgetting that it's a child porn case, with plain visible proofs of violation (no pun intended) of the law in Brazil (and also in the US for that matter).

          If Google wants to
          • This ignores the fact that the "branch office," while it may seem like a limb of a greater organization, is legally a separate entity, and thus has no basis to request the information from Google USA's servers.

            Or, to put it the other way, the sysadmins at Google USA, who presumably have a policy of "we don't disclose data to anyone without a warrant," might get an email from someone in the Brazilian office, but they're not going to just email them a ton of confidential data. They want a warrant, valid in th
  • by neonprimetime ( 528653 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @10:23AM (#15962744) Homepage
    Early this year, Google successfully defended a subpoena from the US Department of Justice to hand over its data in another child porn investigation case.

    Brazil is by no means a totalitarian regime but its privacy laws differ from those of the US.

    If a Brazilian judge decides that Google must hand over data or pay a hefty fine and shut down its local operations then it sets a dangerous precedent for Google.


    I don't think Brazil's legal system is as porn friendly as the US legal system. I bet ya that Google will have to hand over something in this case, or risk being tossed out of Brazil.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gid13 ( 620803 )
      Heh, the country with a sex tourism trade that will probably have a penis-shaped museum [jaunted.com] certainly couldn't be more porn-friendly than the fundamentalist US. Regardless, being porn-friendly does not equate to being child-porn-friendly.
  • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @10:25AM (#15962760) Homepage Journal
    ... they'll be hurting Brazil a lot more than they'll be hurting Google.
    • Really? It would just create a big market oportunity for a local search engine to appear and compete. And I'd exchange all the flashy-search-engines of the world for a single child abuse less any time.
  • by Reverend528 ( 585549 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @10:27AM (#15962783) Homepage
    Google Brazil should be careful. Before they turn anyone over to the ministry of information, they should make sure it's the right man and not just some typo [google.com].
  • by NeuroAcid ( 806498 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @10:29AM (#15962811)
    Don't store the data in the first place.
    • It's simpler than that. Just make it all totally public.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by NeuroAcid ( 806498 )
        You know, I never thought of that. And I probably never will again. But before you go around telling people this is your solution to this and many other problems, think about this. Because there are a plethora of laws out there, and even more ways of interpretting them, everyone is basically a criminal already. There isn't one person in this country that hasn't committed some crime or another, be it jay walking, dancing in a bar without a cabert license(nyc), littering, etc. So making everything public woul
        • There isn't one person in this country that hasn't committed some crime or another, be it jay walking, dancing in a bar without a cabert license (nyc)...

          To clear, must the individual or the bar have the cabert license? 'Cause I heard that "life is a cabert" and a license would seem to confuse the issue...

        • You're right. And as long as we all continue to participate in the charade where the laws are reasonable and we're innocent and keep our heads down, those laws will continue. As long as the Ivory Tower folks are the only one with access to the data and they can keep us all from wanting to face these retarded laws, they can freely choose to arrest anyone at any time they wish.

          This is how police states are formed.
    • by bitkari ( 195639 )
      Unfortunately even if they wanted to choose not to store the data, they may be compelled to by law.

      Several governments either have laws, or are introducing laws [europa.eu] that require Telcos, ISPs and the like to retain data usually under the guise of protecting us from terrorism.

      Ladies & Gentlemen, set your tinfoil hats to stun.

    • Really? People shouldn't store personal data on Orkut? That is a really interesting idea. I don't think anyone has ever built a social networking site with no persistent data before. YOU COULD BE THE FIRST!
  • by RagingFuryBlack ( 956453 ) <NjRef511 AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @10:31AM (#15962828) Homepage
    From the Reuters Article:
    In its request, Google said its Orkut pages are housed on its server in the United States and that Brazilian authorities should request that information from its headquarters, not its Brazilian unit.
    Could the Brasillian government start knocking at the US DoJ's door asking for a subpeona for the data on the servers inside the USA, or will this lead to another fishing expedition from the US DoJ in MySpace, Orkut, Facebook, Ect instead of google searches?
  • by knightmad ( 931578 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @10:33AM (#15962842)
    Orkut is the most used and popular social networking site in my home country (Brazil), and its popularity can't be explained with words or analogies. (But I will try anyway ;) )
    Not having an Orkut account there (among teenagers and young adults from the middle/upper class) is something like not having an IM account or a cellphone, there are more than 5 Million users only from Brasil there, popular enough to force Google to provide a Brazilian Portuguese translation of the site, and to make Google to open a subsidiary there, to take advantage of this unexpected success.

    The downside of the site is that brazilian people are very open and trusting, and the "invite-only" aspect of the site incentived from the very beggining the users to put their real data there, like friends, habits, pictures, etc (something similar to MySpace in the U.S.), and that attracted all kind of problems concerning to racism, gang rivaltry and child harassment. Not that it wouldn't happen in the real world anyway (Brasil has a lot of problems), it only moved to a different scenario, the internet.

    As it is based on the concept "Communities" (similar to groups on yahoo groups), a lot of groups with dubious/illegal subjects popped up, groups endorsing racism, neo-nazi propaganda, child abuse and other illegal activities, crimes were planned and the results posted and commented in some of thoses threads. When the perpetrator was stupid enough to use his real information (and believe me, it happens every once in a while, stupid punks, althought it would be a violation of their TOS not provide real information heh), the police had no problem to find the criminal and prosecute. But when they hide behind fake profiles, the police has no other option other than subpoena the information to try to find the culprit.

    Don't let the hype make you think this is another case of a country trying to "think of the children", Orkut has became a place where crime (or apology to crime, as it is also illegal in Brasil) has became a major problem and police and the justice system are having to deal with it adequatedly. (For the ones who didn't got it, I'm brazilian and English is not my first language, so sorry for any eventual mistake)
    • by QCompson ( 675963 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @11:00AM (#15963077)
      or apology to crime, as it is also illegal in Brasil
      Seems like you're going to generate a lot more crime when you make it a crime to justify or defend a crime. Words shouldn't be illegal.
    • I'm not sure what the Brazilian police are wanting here. IP addresses? Botnets are so widespread now that anybody can claim they know nothing about this, that their PC was hijacked and turned into an anonymous proxy for criminals. And how to disprove it? Bots are designed to not be found, so it's rather difficult to prove they're lying by not finding one.
    • by aralin ( 107264 )
      I will try to add to this. Orkut is so popular in Brazil that everyone else stopped using it. It is not even possible. You create a group for people from Prague, the capital of Czech Republic, way on a different continent, and 90% members somehow happen to be from Brazil. Now you create a group for alumni of the university in the same city. Guess what? Over half of the members are from Brazil again. I cannot say how many people asked Google for a simple feature: Show me everyone, except for from Brazil.

      BT

      • I've never understood why they don't just build different sites for people of different languages - duh, people who don't speak a common language aren't going to be talking to each other anyways. I'm biligual, but it wouldn't bother me to have two sets of friends lists or whatever orkut uses.
    • This is a very Informative, +5 posting, that details correctly what is going on here. Valeu (=kudos), knightmad.
    • Apology To Crime? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ObsessiveMathsFreak ( 773371 ) <obsessivemathsfr ... t ['com' in gap]> on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @01:05PM (#15964168) Homepage Journal
      As it is based on the concept "Communities" (similar to groups on yahoo groups), a lot of groups with dubious/illegal subjects popped up, groups endorsing racism, neo-nazi propaganda, child abuse and other illegal activities, crimes were planned and the results posted and commented in some of thoses threads ......
      Orkut has became a place where crime (or apology to crime, as it is also illegal in Brasil) has became a major problem and police and the justice system are having to deal with it adequatedly.


      Pedophiles and racists are chatting online. Read my lips. Big Fucking Deal. In a free society, people should be entitled both to their views, and to discuss those views with like minded individuals. The majority of society happens to find these views highly offensive. Tough Shit. Liberty isn't as selective as most mobs. I refuse to sacrafice society on the altar of public outrage because a few sickos are typing objectionable content. "Apology to crime". What kind of a fucking country is Brazil anyway!?

      To those who would cry; "Oh but these groups are inherantly evil and morally wrong!", let me tell you something about "inherant" evil and morality. There are countries in the world where clitorectomies are not only considered legal, but morally correct. In fact, a grown woman with a clitoris is considered inherantly immoral. You might scoff at the notions of "primitive" societies, but let it first be noted that the US has highest circumcision rate in the developed world. You'll find plenty of people with "inherantly's" on both sides of that debate.

      Morals change. Oh boy do they change. Racism, pedophilia, facism were once not only legal, but moral as well. They were regarded as virtues in many societies at one point in time or another. You want the sad truth. Morals change with the tides. I'll trust in what's legal long before I trust in what's "moral".

      Left to the media and the mob, our society would embrace old status quos just as quickly as it would condenm them. Right now the media is making money from outrage against child porn. Give it a few decades and they'll be calling for "tweenage" weddings to be legalised, or for segregation to be reestablished. Will you want to listen to them then? Do you think the legligatures and companies should be so quick to kow-tow?

      So fuck moral outrage. It's like a fashion fad. Google knows this. They respect peoples rights, even if they abhor their actions. And so should everyone. If you don't like it, then move to a totalitarian state. Or Brazil, where my above "apology to crime" is in fact illegal.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by knightmad ( 931578 )
        "Pedophiles and racists are chatting online. Read my lips. Big Fucking Deal."

        Well, I stopped reading here, and I'm actually amazed by the fact that you got modded Interesting. You (and most people outside Brasil) doesn't know what "incitement" means in this context. (lol, you guys will not forgive me for the misplaced "apology", will you?). Mostly, because you guys don't have all the background stories that lead police and the judiciary system to assume this awkward move. Incitement here mean, in the cas
    • by rbanffy ( 584143 )
      Hi.

      I see the problem as Brazilian authorities appear to be refusing to follow proper conduct. I agree that if the servers are in the US, then the laws that apply to those crimes is the US law and Brazilian authorities have no jurisdiction.

      I think it should be solved, instead, by the Foreign Relations Office, that could forward the request either to Google itself or to the local authorities - I am not sure if it would be the FBI or the DOJ. Both would be more than happy to help and, IIRC, they could even ask
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by madcow_bg ( 969477 )
        > illegal opinions
        Illegal opinions are a great danger to society.
                                          Signed by: the Chinese government.
  • by Captain Perspicuous ( 899892 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @10:39AM (#15962898)
    Since the data on the Google platform [wikipedia.org] is mirrored around the globe for performance reasons, I'm not so sure Google is telling the truth here. I'm pretty sure the regular Google web index is mirrored in some Brazil data centre, and with Orkut having its major market share there too [wikipedia.org], I would assume that this data that is requested is already there, too.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by lcam ( 848192 )
      You mean that information might be "proxied" at some brazilian data center?

      A proxy is a type of caching system to accelerate delivery of frequently requested data. It is by no means a permanent storage system.

      Information may not even be stored in the proxy's file system in a way humans can understand/navigate. But rather in a way to optimized for the machine to find and retrieve information.

      If a request for a resouces not found in the cached occurs that information is retrieved from it's original source;
  • I Remember Orkut (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Schezar ( 249629 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @10:41AM (#15962910) Homepage Journal
    Orkut was amazing... for about two weeks. I loved it. Our entire friend group jumped in, started making communities, and generally became very active. There was lots of discussion, and everyone was very happy with it.

    Then, the Brazilians came.

    My inbox slowly flooded with Portugese spam, mostly asking to be my friend. All of the communities I frequented filled with Portugese spam, mostly asking me to join other communities. They ignored the "language" preferences on communitues and overran practically every non-Portugese group. They constantly spammed one another. Many times, it was just two people having a private conversation with one another, but for whatever godforsaken reason sending this conversation to EVERYONE ON THEIR FRIEND LIST AND EVERYONE ON ALL OF THEIR FRIENDS' FRIEND LISTS!

    They completely took Orkut over in the space of a month. It was impossible to use the service if you didn't speak Portugese. They'd email me constantly asking me to join their friend lists and communities. It got so bad I had to remove all of my contact information from the site.

    It's not that they used their native language. I'm cool with that. You're free on the Internet to speak whatever language you want. The problem was they ignored and trampled everyone else, filling English-only boards and spamming constantly.

    That's my Orkut story. Seeing it in the news again reminded me of the potential, and of how annoying Brazilians can be online ;^)

    I wonder if anyone outside of Brazil even uses Orkut anymore.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mosburger ( 189009 )
      I wonder if what you experienced is exactly how it feels to be a non-English speaker using the internet on any other English-dominated site. :-/
      • by RLiegh ( 247921 ) * on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @11:17AM (#15963238) Homepage Journal
        Who cares? That's about like my whining about "how it feels" to be a non-japanese speaker on 2ch. Your question would be a lot more poignant if you were talking about english speakers invading non-english forums.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I wonder if what you experienced is exactly how it feels to be a non-English speaker using the internet on any other English-dominated site.

        There is a difference between an immigrant feeling overwhelmed by the language of the country he moved to and a native feeling overwhelmed by an influx of immigrants.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by rite_m ( 787216 )
      Things have changed since you dumped orkut. There has been a rise of Indian and Pakistani users, not to mention american users (probably indian and pakistanis residing in USA). Orkut has taken steps to prevent spams and phishing, and they have become faster. I recommend you give it a second chance.
  • What must be done: (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rice_burners_suck ( 243660 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @11:06AM (#15963141)
    I think the free software community needs to get everyone together, along with lots of money and resources, and create a country somewhere in the world that has free software friendly laws.

    This country doesn't need to be very big. It just needs to have room for some enormous data centers. Everything would be based here, and countries like Brazil or the US would have no say in what's being hosted on the servers based there.

    Then, there would be no such thing as Google having to succumb to government pressure.

  • by gsn ( 989808 )
    I have an orkut account - some of the information like an gmail address is necessary to sign in. The rest of the information on your profile is entiely optional. They don't even have to ask google for the profile information - make a fake account and stick up a photo of some girl in a swimsuit and get a freind request and you get to see it as soon as its approved.

    The stupid thing is they expect criminals to be providing orkut with any legit info - for a long time my address was in Svalbard and the Jan Mayen
    • by hummassa ( 157160 )
      They want the IP addresses associated with any sessions opened by . So, they'll cross-reference with the ISPs that own those guys, and get: (1) the financial info used to pay for the ISP and/or (2) the address of the phone that dialed (in the case of dial-up) or the address of the cable/adsl-modem installation, so they can grab the guys.
  • Boas-Vindas (Score:3, Funny)

    by faqmaster ( 172770 ) <jones.tm@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @11:29AM (#15963336) Homepage Journal
    I, para um, dão boas-vindas a nossos overlords novos de Brazillian.
  • If they go to them and say "we caught this user account accessing child porn," on what basis can Google morally and legally not comply? Google is not a court, and should have to comply with the law like the average person does. Anything less and they become, as Locke feared, a law unto themselves, which is the last thing we want any rich institution to become.
  • This [blogspot.com] was posted about an hour and a half ago. I suppose Google'll wanna pre-emptively combat any negative press on this issue.
  • Jurisdiction (Score:4, Informative)

    by rbanffy ( 584143 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @01:51PM (#15964525) Homepage Journal

    Hi.

    I see the problem as Brazilian authorities appear to be refusing to follow proper conduct. I agree that if the servers are in the US, then the laws that apply to those crimes is the US law and Brazilian authorities have no jurisdiction.

    I think it should be solved, instead, by the Foreign Relations Office, that could forward the request either to Google itself or to the local authorities - I am not sure if it would be the FBI or the DOJ. Both would be more than happy to help and, IIRC, they could even ask - and be granted - extradition of non-Brazilian citizens to the US so they could be prosecuted there. This is, of course, about the child-porn problems. Speech is more protected in the US, so, it should be safe to use a US-based server to express illegal opinions about such things as racism or neo-nazis. The server is in the US, so Brazilian laws should not apply. Not that I approve racism or neo-nazis - it's a matter of jurisdiction.

    OTOH, I am quite sure any employee of the Brazilian Google office that could have access to the requested data would be committing a crime in wherever-in-the-US the servers are by giving the requested information without proper authorization to foreign (from the server point-of-view) authorities and would face possible arrest upon setting foot on the US.

    As it is configured now, it looks more like a pissing contest between Google and the Brazilian authorities. I side with Google, in that the data is not under Brazilian jurisdiction and Brazilian authorities are refusing to follow proper procedures for the case.

    And yes, I am Brazilian and live in Brazil.
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