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Google helps Brazil combat child porn

Date: April 11, 2008
By: Sylvie Barak

SPEAKING TO A panel of Brazilian Senators yesterday, Google’s Brazilian chief said that the search engine giant would make much greater efforts to curb child pornography and racial incitement on its social not-working site, Orkut, but that it still could not give officials users’ personal information.

The Brazilian senate panel had set up a session with Brazilian Google top man, Alexandre Hohagen, in an attempt to try to find solutions to the problem of highly offensive, pornographic and inflammatory material spread through Google’s Orkut social not-working site, the most popular of its kind in the South American country. Some 55 per cent of Orkut’s 60 million users worldwide are Brazilian.

In August of last year, Google refused to give user information to the country’s federal prosecutors, investigating individuals said to be spreading explicit child pornography and hateful slurs on Jews, blacks and homosexuals, through the Orkut network. Google claimed that as an American company, it would act under U.S legislation guaranteeing people freedom of speech, and that the best it could do was to kick the offending users out of user groups on the site.

But in yesterday’s hearing, Hohagen pledged that Google would be installing specialised filters to try and stem the flood of child porn, and that instead of its current policy of 30 days, it would now store up to six months of personal records on any user who accessed or passed on such despicable material. The search engine giant also said that it would “advise” authorities on such matters and give them copies of the criminal texts and images, as of June 2008.

The Brazilian senate seemed more than happy with the compromise, with one Senator, Romeu Tuma, even telling AP, "The Internet allows paedophiles to remain in the shadows. It's time to exchange shadows for jail".

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