Thursday, May 25, 2006

Google to shut down Orkut communities

The freedom of association afforded by social software - like networking tool Orkut - does have it's downside.

In Brazil, Orkut has some eight million users, representing about a quarter of all Brazilians who have access to the Internet.
Google Inc. has agreed to shut down some communities on its popular Orkut social networking site because the Brazilian government says they advocate violence and human rights violations. Orkut's terms of service forbid "any illegal or unauthorized purpose,"
The Brazilian human rights commission presented evidence that Brazilians have been using the invitation-only networking site to promote crimes and violence. In recent years, news reports have linked drug dealing operations and organized fights between soccer fans to Orkut communities. One community allegedly advocated killing the president and planting a bomb in Congress.

But at least Google has repeatedly stressed its commitment to protect its users' information within the bounds of local laws.
Google fought a U.S. Justice Department subpoena seeking an extensive list of the search requests that people had been entering into its search engine claiming the demands were an unnecessary intrusion that threatened to undermine the public's trust in the Internet. A U.S. federal judge agreed. ...Google launched a search engine in China earlier this year and chose not to offer e-mail service to minimize the likelihood of facing a government subpoena seeking access to private messages. But, sadly, Yahoo Inc. has provided the Chinese government with personal e-mails that have contributed to the convictions of several journalists.

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