Google turns over Orkut data to Brazil authorities

September 29, 2006

Google Inc. is actively complying with requests for data about its Orkut social networking service ordered by Brazilian courts, the company said Thursday.Google has provided Brazilian authorities with data about Orkut users in response to 30 court orders, and it plans to respond to eight more orders before their deadlines expire, said Debbie Frost, a Google spokeswoman.

Brazilian prosecutors investigating allegations of illegal activities on Orkut sued Google last month in a Brazil civil court, saying Google hadn’t responded to their requests for information.

Google defended itself, saying the prosecutors were requesting the information from Google’s Brazil subsidiary, which doesn’t operate Orkut. Google runs Orkut from the U.S., so requests have to be sent to its headquarters in Mountain View, California, it said.

Frost acknowledged that there are eight other orders mentioned in last month’s lawsuit that the company hasn’t responded to because it hasn’t received them at its Google Brazil subsidiary or its U.S. headquarters.

Google informed the court about its compliance with data requests regarding Orkut on Thursday in an official response to the lawsuit filed with the court, Frost said.

“We have and will continue to provide Brazilian authorities with information on users who abuse the Orkut service, if their requests are reasonable and follow an appropriate legal process,” she said.

Brazilian authorities reportedly are investigating a variety of allegedly illegal uses of Orkut by members in Brazil, including child pornography.

In their lawsuit, Brazilian prosecutors asked the court to fine Google and close its Brazil subsidiary for allegedly failing to provide the requested information.

Orkut, an invitation-only service, is immensely popular in Brazil.

It is obviously a tradeoff between the privacy issue and the compliance with court’s order.  So long as the court’s order is reasonable, Google should provide courts with the users’ information to the extend that the users’ privacy are also protected.

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