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Portuguese Activist Blog Shut Down by Google for Defamatory Content

BY Antonella Napolitano | Wednesday, November 28 2012

Over the past few days, the Portuguese blog Precários Inflexíveis (Inflexible Precarious Workers) has reportedly been silenced and then blocked by Google.
The blog was devoted to exposing the working conditions of freelance workers without permanent contracts: Google allegedly shut the blog down because of a complaint made by BF Grupo after the “precários” accused the company of illegal work and tax evasion”.
The takedown happened during the day of a general strike in the country (and in other countries in Southern Europe, such as Spain, Italy and Greece).

According to the NGO European Digital Rights (EDRI), that has spoken with one of the PI group representatives:

[...] Google notified Precarious Inflexible of the possible cancellation of its blog on Google’s Blogger service, due to the complaint made by the BF group. The group considered it had nothing to modify and was surprised to find their blog cancelled on 14 November. "Blogger is a platform that promotes freedom of expression and our policies serve this purpose. Whenever some content is flagged by users, we analyse this blog and proceed in accordance with our policies. We believe this is the best solution to provide a safe online experience for users of all ages and be a platform for creativity and freedom of personal expression that have characterized Blogger and its users," reads the statement sent to Portugal online news website Publico by Rui Carvalho from Google, who also stated the company did not make comments on individual cases. Google’s new terms of service are now covering country-specific takedowns of content on Blogger.

Last week the homepage of the blog displayed the message “This blog is in violation of Blogger's Terms of Service and is open to authors only,” while currently gives a 404 error.

This is not the first time that the advocacy group has encountered this kind of problem. The Portuguese news website Público reports that that Precários Inflexíveis has been sued by another company, Axes Marketing, which claimed that some of the comments made in response to a PI blogpost were defamatory. Axes Marketing succeeded in getting more than 350 deleted, but Precários Inflexíveis eventually won the appeal.
The activist group later declared that this was a bad precedent, in that it encouraged other companies to use similar tactics.
Google Blogger did not delete the webpage follow that lawsuit, despite a court order.

The Portuguese group said that it will continue to pressure Google to restore the blog. Meanwhile their activities continue on their Facebook page, where they cove working conditions abroad, including the recent Wal-Mart strike, and other initiatives like the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

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