SAO PAULO (AP) – A request for an injunction to stop Twitter users from alerting drivers to police roadblocks, radar traps and drunk-driving checkpoints could make Brazil the first country to take Twitter up on its plan to censor content at governments’ requests.
Twitter unveiled plans last month that would allow country-specific censorship of tweets that might break local laws.
“As far as we know this is the first time that a country has attempted to take Twitter up on their country-by-country take down,” Eva Galperin of the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation said in a telephone interview Thursday.
Galperin, who described the foundation as “a digital liberties organization,” predicted governments will be taking similar opportunities to censor Twitter traffic.
“Twitter has given these countries the tool and now Brazil has chosen to use it,” she said.
Carlos Eduardo Rodrigues Alves, a spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office, said the injunction request was filed Monday. He said a judge was expected to announce in the next few days whether he will issue the order against Twitter users.
The attorney general’s office said in a statement that tweeted alerts about police operations jeopardize efforts to reduce traffic accidents and curb auto thefts and the transportation of drugs and weapons.
According to the statement, traffic accidents throughout Brazil kill 55,000 people each year and cost the country 24.6 billion reals, or about $14.3 billion.
If the judge rules in favor of the injunction, anyone who violates it could be hit with a daily fine of 500,000 reals ($291,000), the statement said.
San Francisco-based Twitter Inc. said in an email that it had “nothing to share on this issue.”
Under Twitter’s new policy, a tweet breaking a law in one country can be taken down there at a government’s request. But it adds that censored tweets will still be seen elsewhere.
Twitter has said it will post a censorship notice whenever a tweet is removed and will post the removal requests it receives.
It said it has no plans to remove tweets unless it receives a request from government officials, companies or another outside party that believes the message is illegal.
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