Google in deal with Brazil to fight child porn

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Internet search company Google signed an agreement with Brazilian public prosecutors on Wednesday to help combat child pornography on its social networking site Orkut, an accord that the company believes is the first of its kind internationally.

A man walks past Google Inc. headquarters in Mountain View, California, May 8, 2008. REUTERS/Kimberly White

Under the agreement, Google will use filters to remove and prevent illegal content on Orkut, which has about half its users in Brazil. The company will also facilitate evidence gathering under judicial order in suspected crimes against children and teen-agers on Orkut without the need for international legal accords.

Google will also preserve for six months access logs of users being investigated for illegal conduct.

Google said it was the first such agreement that the company had signed and the firm believes it is the first internationally. Alexandre Hohagen, president of Google in Brazil, told a congressional committee, “It’s an historic day not only for Brazil but for the Internet in the entire world.”

Initially, Google had refused to work with prosecutors, saying it was subject only to U.S. laws, said Prosecutor Sergio Suiama. The company denied this, saying it had always been willing to cooperate with Brazilian authorities.

Brazilian prosecutors say 90 percent of illegal Internet content being investigated in Brazil involves Orkut. The site has 60 million users, half of them in Brazil.

Of 624 investigations by federal prosecutors in Sao Paulo state through the end of last year into human rights crimes on the Internet, 420 involved child pornography on Orkut.

“Orkut was lawless,” said Suiama.

The accord was signed during a session of a congressional inquiry into paedophilia and follows legal battles since 2006.

Under the deal, public prosecution withdrew a lawsuit against Google, a company spokesman said.

The committee, which under Brazilian law has some police and judicial powers, ordered the investigation of 18,000 Orkut photo albums accused of harbouring child pornography.

Google has more than a 60 percent share of the Web search market, according to industry figures.

Reporting by Fernando Exman, writing by Raymond Colitt