Google this week disputed news reports suggesting that only after a Brazilian court's recent threats of daily fines did it decide to hand over data to authorities about users suspected of engaging in criminal activity via Orkut, its social networking site.
"All relevant Brazilian federal courts in Sao Paulo already address requests and orders to Google Inc., and as a result they have promptly received data in response to at least 20 criminal court orders, and Google Inc. has preserved data in more than 70 others," the company said in a statement Wednesday responding to a query from CNET News.com.
The search giant has since filed a petition with the court for clarification on its new order, which threatened to impose fines of about $23,000 per day on Google's Brazil subsidiary for failure to comply with authorities' requests. All data on Orkut.com users, regardless of their country of origin, is stored at Google's Mountain View, Calif. headquarters, the company said.
For months, Brazilian prosecutors have been investigating allegations that Orkut's communities, which have proven especially popular among Brazilians, facilitate distribution of child pornography and promote crime and violence. The data requested is designed to help Brazilian law enforcement identify people accused of engaging in racism, pedophilia, and homophobia, which are considered crimes in the South American nation.