Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Google will turn over data to Brazil

Posted by Richard Koman - September 5, 2006

By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher

Google will turn over to Brazil information that could identify users engaging in online racism, pedophilia and homophobia, The Washington Post reports. But when the US Dept. of Justice asked to see Google data, the company responded with a lawsuit.

What's the difference?

What they're asking for is not billions of pages," said Nicole Wong, Google associate general counsel. "In most cases, it's relatively discrete -- small and narrow."

Google released a statement yesterday saying it was complying with the Brazilian court orders following a ruling Thursday by a Brazilian judge that threatened Google with a fine of $23,000 a day for noncompliance.

The Brazilian court orders focus on Orkut, which Google bought a few years ago. Orkut is hardly on the radar of American social networking sites but it is the dominant player in Brazil. And some of the social connections being made on Orkut are of the depraved and hateful variety.

Google has complied with 26 court order and has stored information on 70 other users whose information is ripe for subpoena.

Civil liberties groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Electronic Privacy Information Center say Google has no choice but that the fact that internet companies store so much information is the source of the problem.

"It's almost a defining moment for the industry," Rotenberg said. "They need to decide if they want to become a one-stop shop for government prosecutors."

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