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Brazil sues Twitter over police checkpoint tweets

Threatens $290k fine... daily

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Twitter should be more proactive in blocking tweets about police checkpoints, according to the Brazilian Attorney, who reckons a daily fine of R$500,000 ($290,000) will get the company moving.

If the injunction, lodged with the Federal Court of Goiás, is successful, then Twitter will be obliged to suspend accounts which warn drivers about police checkpoints, or face a daily fine of around £183,000, as Brazilian police are struggling to catch drivers who come pre-informed about their location and numbers.

The action has been prompted by the popularity of the Twitter accounts listing the locations of police checkpoints, based on crowd-sourced information, which The Next Web reckons are becoming endemic. But it follows last month's measures against Twitter and Facebook accounts (Portuguese) that were providing locations where police raids were expected or observed.

That action also involved a daily fine, if accounts weren't deactivated within seven days, but also required the companies hosting the services to take some responsibility for the content – something the current crop of internet businesses desperately want to avoid.

More acceptable was the threat of up to half-a-decade in prison for those posting information about police raids, which is fine when that information is about an incoming drugs bust, but harder to justify when it's the location of a breathalyser-testing point.

The US has been having similar debates, with Apple and RIM both excluding police-checkpoint-notification apps from their respective stores, though websites continue to provide the information.

It's quite fun to read Americans demanding the right to say what they like on Twitter, claiming freedom of speech is absolute, given the Department of Homeland Security just deported two UK tourists for making jokes and quoting Family Guy in their tweets. Every culture, it seems, has its limits.

Twitter is getting a little more sensitive to regional discrepancies, offering to reactively block tweets which regionally offend or (more commonly) breach copyright, so shouldn't have any problem removing accounts or providing posters' identities to the authorities, but it won't want to start taking responsibility for noticing whether the information is being shared – not until Chinese expansion is on the cards at least . ®

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