Caught in the net

Journalism student Emílio Moreno da Silva Neto was recently ordered by a Brazilian judge to pay more than $9,000 in damages following complaints about a comment posted by someone else on his blog. IFEX (the International Freedom of Expression exchange) reports that Neto had used his blog to criticize the lack of media coverage of a fight between two students at a private school in Fortaleza. An anonymous reader responded with criticisms of the school’s director, who then sued Neto for ‘moral damages’.

Neto believes that bloggers in his country are ‘victims of a breach of justice’ which makes it possible for them to be held responsible for comments posted on their blogs, because Brazil has no specific law to deal with internet content.

‘Since we do not have appropriate legislation, it can be a problem for freedom of expression. We may end up creating a fear in people to express themselves. I moderate the site and since this [incident] occurred, I am, on the one hand, fearful of censoring someone, and on the other hand, fearful of facing charges,’ he explains.

mag cover This article is from the January/February 2010 issue of New Internationalist.
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