Global Freedom of Expression

Charles Berbare v. Google Brasil Internet Ltda

Closed Expands Expression

Key Details

  • Mode of Expression
    Electronic / Internet-based Communication
  • Date of Decision
    August 14, 2017
  • Outcome
    Motion Denied
  • Case Number
  • Region & Country
    Brazil, Latin-America and Caribbean
  • Judicial Body
    First Instance Court
  • Type of Law
    Civil Law
  • Themes
    Digital Rights, Privacy, Data Protection and Retention
  • Tags
    Right to be forgotten, Google

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Case Analysis

Case Summary and Outcome

A Brazilian court rejected a request made by a citizen who wanted Google to remove search results linked to articles about his illegal conduct. The citizen had been arrested six years before and wanted the articles removed from search results as he believed they were slanderous and discredited him. The Court rejected the application, finding that there were no grounds to justify his request and the Court emphasized that Google did not have control over the content of the articles which did, in any event, not contain any information that was illegal.


In 2010, Brazilian citizen, Charles Berbare, was arrested for illegal medical practice, a fact reported on various news portals.

In 2016, Berbare filed a court application seeking a preliminary injunction against Google for the delisting of articles dealing with his arrest from Google search results. He argued that the articles were slanderous, discrediting his honor, and that the allegedly untrue reports caused him serious harm.

The 6th Civil District Court of Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, presided over by Judge Ana Paula Franchito Cypriano, rejected Berbare’s preliminary application, noting that he faced criminal charges for the illegal practice of medicine and emphasizing that the criminal process was public and that there were no grounds for censorship of the articles.

Article 220 §1 of the Brazilian Constitution protects freedom of expression, and states that “[n]o law shall contain any provision that may constitute an impediment to full freedom of the press, in any medium of social communication’.

Decision Overview

Judge Cypriano delivered the final judgment of the 6th Civil District Court of Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo. The central issue for the Court’s determination was whether Google had an obligation to remove the articles from its search results.

Google argued that it was not responsible for the content of the articles, as it had not produced or published them. It clarified that it did not host the articles on its website but served only as a provider, listing links related to a search request. Google maintained that it could not remove the reports and suggested that if the content of the articles was false, Berbare should pursue legal action against the news sites that wrote and published them.

The Court noted that it was not within its jurisdiction to judge the veracity of the article contents, as Berbare was suing Google and not the news sites that produced and published the articles. It found that Google was merely a provider website, and it was not Google’s responsibility to indicate any links to the contested articles: “The fact is that the website of the [Google] is classified as a search engine provider and, as such, does not host the pages indicated in the search results. The provider merely indicates links related to the user’s search, acting as a facilitator for accessing pages related to the entered word or expression in the search field”. [p. 189]

The Court held that there was no reason to grant Berbare’s request, as the content of the articles was not illegal, and therefore, there was no reason to censor them.

Accordingly, the Court held that ordering Google to remove links to any articles about Berbare’s illegal practice of medicine would be illegal, citing Article 220, §1 of the Brazilian Federal Constitution and referencing the decision of the Superior Tribunal of Justice in REsp 1.407.271/SP.

Decision Direction

Quick Info

Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.

Expands Expression

By denying the request to remove content from the search engine, the Court prioritized the right to information and freedom of expression.

Global Perspective

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Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.

Table of Authorities

National standards, law or jurisprudence

Case Significance

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Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.

The decision establishes a binding or persuasive precedent within its jurisdiction.

Official Case Documents

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