Brazilian court orders Google to pay damages to priest wrongly accused of pedophilia


An appeals court in the Brazilian city of Minas Gerais has upheld a ruling ordering Google to pay $8,500 in damages to a priest who was anonymously accused of pedophilia on the Orkut social network.

The priest, identified as “J.R.,” alleged an anonymous user called him a “pedophile” and a “thief” on one of the virtual community of Orkut, which is managed by Google.

Lower court Judge Alvimar de Avila ruled the internet giant should be held responsible for the false charges because it allows users to sign up for Orkut anonymously without providing any authentic identification that is verified by the company.

The priest’s lawyer, Oscar Ramalho Cavini, said, “Because it does not require users to identify themselves, Google must be held liable, because otherwise it is contributing to criminal anonymity.”

Google could still appeal the ruling in Brazilian federal court, although the it has not yet announced whether it will do so. The company said its policy was to “offer users an account free of charge, after users accept the terms of use when signing up.”

After China, Brazil is the country with the most requests to Google for removal of content, the company said.

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