Brazilian Government Seeks Identities of "Homophobic" Bloggers
Uses secret court decision, intimidation to block access to thousands of sites
By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
SAO PAULO, April 15, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Brazilian government has begun to prohibit access to websites that are condemned for violating "human rights", including sites that are deemed "homophobic". The government is also demanding that hosting services divulge the identities of users who post offensive material.
The Google Corporation has reportedly received a court summons with a dossier of 150 pages documenting "homophobic" material on its "Orkut" service, a social networking system popular in Brazil.
Federal Prosecutor Sérgio Suiama has proposed an information-sharing system for Google that will give the government access to identifying information of posters who violate its restrictions.
"With this agreement, which has already been accepted in Brazil by the providers IG, Terra, Click 21, and AOL, Google would agree to, under judicial order, provide information that will help to discover those who are guilty of crimes," Suiama was quoted as saying on the Brazilian government website SaferNet.
However, the government is not waiting to act. After years of warning Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and other companies to remove offensive material from their systems, a state court has ordered internet service providers to prohibit access to a blog hosted by WordPress.com that fell afoul of the government's speech codes.
The order, which was issued recently by the 31st Civil Jurisdiction of the Tribunal of Justice of São Paulo, will require Brazilian internet service providers to prevent access to a blog that was judged as violating "human rights". The name and address of the site, as well as the offense committed, are not being revealed to the public.
Internet service providers in Brazil, however, are telling the government that they cannot block a single Wordpress site at a time, and will be forced to block all of WordPress. In the process, they will eliminate access to the second largest public blogging system in the world, one that includes tens of thousands of Brazilian blogs.
"It's an arbitrary decision," said Brazilian journalist and blogger Paulo Cezar Prado in an interview with O Globo. "I don't believe that Justice is going to do something as absurd as taking a mountain of people off the air because of one blog." WordPress bloggers are protesting and have created a special blog to oppose the measure.
The government also recently announced a verdict against Google of 10,000 Reais (5,958 USD) to be awarded to a woman who was called a "swindler" by other posters on its "Orkut" service, a system similar to Friendster, which is very popular in Brazil.
Pro-Family blogger Julio Severo, whose Blogger site was temporarily blocked last year by Google after he was accused of "homophobia" (see LifeSiteNews.com coverage at http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2007/jul/07073011.html), says that he is concerned about his blog's future as well as his own safety. He compared the actions of the Brazilian government to Nazism.
"I believe that the Lula administration is using some extreme examples to control the increasing influence of blogs and other services where people express freely their views," Severo told LifeSiteNews.com.
Related LifeSiteNews.com Coverage:
Socialist Gays Seek Punishments for Brazilian Christian Congressman
Brazilian Homosexuals File "Hate" Charges Against Brazilian Christians
Plan to Shut Down Blog of Brazil Pro-Family Leader Backfires
Same article in Portuguese: Governo brasileiro busca identidades de blogueiros “homofóbicos”