Brazil orders Google to halt ‘smear campaign’ against speech bill

Brazil's Justice Minister Flavio Dino accused Google on Tuesday of conducting a propaganda campaign against a bill to tackle online disinformation and warned that the government would fine the tech giant around $198,000 per hour if it does not start promoting the legal initiative.

According to Brazilian authorities, Google on its search engine platform promoted a link to an article criticizing Bill 2630 and claiming that "the fake news bill” as it is commonly known as may increase confusion about what is true or false in Brazil while inciting Brazilians to call on their representatives to vote against the law.

The link was shortly removed by Google after authorities expressed their discontent.

“Google has removed encrypted and illegal advertising from its homepage. We hope that platforms deactivate mechanisms of censorship or violation of freedom of expression with isonomy. And we remain open to dialogue. The LAW must prevail," Dino wrote on his Twitter account.

In addition, the Federal Public Ministry in Sao Paulo said that a study conducted by NetLab, the Laboratory for Internet and Social Media Studies at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), found that Google's search engine is manipulating search results to promote entries against the bill.

According to authorities, since Google had fostered the spread of disinformation against the bill for too long, it must comply with a series of preventive measures to counteract the smear campaign against the bill, including promoting positions in favor of social media reform, warning they would fine the tech giant $198,000 per hour it they fail to abide by this.

Bill 2630 will be voted on in Brazil's parliament this week. The legal initiative, which enjoys broad support from the federal government and Supreme Court judges, seeks to curb the reach of accounts and publications accused of disseminating content related to hate speech, terrorism, violence against women and children, the encouraging of coups and discrimination.

Last modified on Wednesday, 03 May 2023 06:01