Digital Rights, Privacy, Data Protection and Retention
Meta Platforms Ireland
Closed Expands Expression
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The Court of Appeals of São Paulo rejected an application by a citizen that Google remove search results linked to articles about his illegal conduct. The citizen argued that links to articles about the criminal charges he was facing that he was illegally practicing medicine were harmful to his honor and reputation. The Court held that Google was not the publisher of the articles and that removing any links would be illegal as the question of the veracity of the article contents was not before them and that the population has the right to information about the facts reported in the articles.
In 2010, a Brazilian citizen, Charles Berbare, was arrested for illegally practicing medicine. The fact was reported on several news portals. In 2016, Berbare filed an application in court, seeking an order that Google delist the reports that referred to his illegal practice of medicine from search results of his name.
Judge Ana Paula Franchito Cypriano delivered the judgment of the Court of Appeals of São Paulo
Berbare sought a preliminary injunction, requesting that the articles that dealt with his arrest for the illegal practice of medicine be removed from Google search results immediately. He argued that the articles were slanderous and discredited his honor, and that the allegedly untrue reports brought him serious harm.
Google argued that it was not responsible for the content of the articles as it had not produced or published the articles. It submitted that it did not host the articles on its website but served only as a provider, listing the links related to a search request. Google argued that it could not remove the reports, and that, if the content of the articles was false, Berbare should sue the news sites which wrote and published the articles.
The Court rejected Berbare’s preliminary application. It noted that Berbare was facing criminal charges for the illegal practice of medicine and that the criminal process was public.
The Court noted that it was not its jurisdiction to judge the article contents’ veracity, 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 that it was not Google’s responsibility to indicate any links to the contested articles. The Court held that there was no need to grant Berbare’s request as the articles’ content was not illegal and so 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.
Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.
By denying the request to remove content from the search engine, the Court prioritized the right to information and freedom of expression.
Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.
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