Brazilian judge orders arrest of Google executive over YouTube videos

A judge in Brazil has ordered the arrest of a Google executive after the company refused to remove two YouTube videos slandering a mayoral candidate in the city of Campo Grande.

Judge Flavio Peren placed the order on Fabio Jose Silva Coehlo, Google’s president of operations in Brazil. The decision came after a week’s worth of deliberations in which Peren first ordered the videos’ removal, Google appealed, and Peren denied the approval.

Peren also ordered a 24-hour suspension of Google and YouTube throughout the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

Google issued a statement shortly after news broke, declaring that it would appeal the judge’s arrest order and plans to continue hosting the site on YouTube.

Google has spent the bulk of 2012 preaching the tenants of free speech and the First Amendment, most prominently with the turmoil surrounding the anti-Muslim film, Innocence of Muslims, but there have been other instances as well.

In fact, a similar situation occurred in Brazil earlier this year when Judge Ruy Teixeira Jander ordered the arrest of Google General Director Edmundo Luis Pinto Balthazar over the company’s decision not to remove a YouTube video that attacked Campina Grande mayoral candidate Romero Rodrigues.

That ruling was overturned after Google filed an appeal. At the time, the company offered that it “believes that voters have a right to use the Internet to freely express their opinions about candidates for political office, as a form of full exercise of democracy, especially during electoral campaigns.”

In April, a German court ruled that YouTube was not required to take responsibility for the content on its site—or police or otherwise filter the site for content—so long as the content in question extends beyond violations of copyright law.

Back in Brazil, police told the Associated Press that they have not yet received orders to arrest Coelho.

Photo via Fabio Coelho/Twitter

Chase Hoffberger

Chase Hoffberger

Chase Hoffberger reported on YouTube, web culture, and crime for the Daily Dot until 2013, when he joined the Austin Chronicle. Until late 2018, he served as that paper’s news editor and reported on criminal justice and politics.