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Brazil threatens to fine Google for campaign against “fake news” bill

Brasilia, May 2 (EFE).- The Brazilian government on Tuesday threatened Google with large fines over what officials called a “abusive and deceitful campaign” against a bill now moving through the South American nation’s legislature that seeks to limit the circulation of disinformation on the internet.

Justice Minister Flavio Dino gave Google two hours to take down the objectionable content, citing Brazil’s consumer protection laws as the basis for taking action.

Last weekend, people using the Brazilian version of Google’s search engine began to see a message from Google Brasil’s director of Governmental Relations and Public Policy, Marcelo Lacerda, criticizing the proposed legislation.

“The ‘fake news’ bill can add to the confusion in Brazil about what is truth or a lie,” Lacerda said of the text that is expected to come to a vote in the lower house this week.

Brazilian officials also accuse Google of manipulating search results to downgrade content in favor of the bill.

“There was a profusion of materials trying to censor and manipulate the parliamentary debate, on the part of firms that have economic interests (which) they now try to disguise as moral principles,” the justice minister said.

Google and other internet platforms, he said, have a right to “defend their businesses, which are legitimate, but only as long as they obey the law.”

The latest moves by Google constitute an attempt “to impose their opinions, manipulate users, about a free debate in parliament,” Dino said.

The legislative, first introduced in 2020, calls for increased scrutiny of social media and expands the category of content that companies must take down even in the absence of a court order.

EFE ed/dr

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