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Google to Battle Child Porn on Orkut

Internet giant Google has signed an agreement with Brazilian public prosecutors to help fight the distribution of child pornography on its Orkut social networking service. Brazilian public prosecutors had filed a suit against Google in its unwillingness to cooperate with investigations; Google maintains that it has always been willing to cooperate with Brazilian authorities, but under U.S. law could not disclose information about its users.

Brazilian authorities have claimed that as much as 90 percent of illegal online content being investigated in Brazil involves Orkut at some level. Of 624 Brazilian investigations into online human rights crimes—including crimes against children and teenagers—420 involved Orkut.

Under the new agreement, Google will employe filtering technology to block and remove illegal content on Orkut; it will also provide evidence in suspected crimes against minors when presented with a Brazilian judicial order without requiring international legal maneuvering. The company will also preserve six months of access logs of users being investigated for illegal activity on the service.

Public prosecutors had sued Google for refusing to cooperate in investigations of illegal activity on Orkut; that suit will be withdrawn as part of the agreement. Google maintains it has always been willing to cooperate with Brazilian authorities to the extend permitted under applicable laws.

Orkut was on of the earliest social networking sites to hit the Internet, and enjoyed a brief burst of popularity in the United States before losing ground to sites like MySpace and Facebook. Nonetheless, Orkut boasts some 60 million users; nearly half are Brazilian.