17.9 C
Los Angeles
Friday, July 19, 2024

Google Hires Brazil’s Temer to Lobby on Controversial Internet Bill

The world’s largest search engine has hired Brazil interim President Michel Temer to lobby lawmakers considering a proposal to regulate the internet, his adviser said on Friday. The legislative proposal, the Fake News Bill, would put the onus on internet companies, search engines, and social messaging services to find and report illegal material and charge hefty fines for failure. It has raised concerns from tech companies, with some launching campaigns on their platform to defeat it. Nearly two months ago, the South American country’s top court ordered an investigation into executives at the Telegram messaging service and Google who led a campaign criticizing the proposed regulation.

The hiring is the latest blow to Temer, who took office in 2016 in a Senate-imposed mandate after right-wing businessman Jair Bolsonaro was elected president. Temer has struggled to push through reforms crucial for Brazil’s economic recovery. He had also faced a barrage of corruption allegations, including in June when the government charged him with accepting a $152,000 bribe from executives of JBS SA, the world’s largest meatpacker.

Since assuming power, the center-right administration of Temer, a former steel and energy executive, has begun scaling back policies implemented by Ms. Rousseff’s left-wing Workers Party over the previous 13 years. Temer’s ministers are reworking laws on the boundary of indigenous land, trimming housebuilding programs, and selling off state assets such as airports and utilities. The administration is also reducing spending on healthcare and the bolsa familia poverty relief program.

To sway public opinion, the new government has begun publishing lists of “fake journalists” and “fake news sites.” The list of fake journalists was published online on Friday, shortly after Folha de S. Paulo published an investigative report saying that Google had hired Temer to promote a message critical of the proposed internet law.

A Google spokesman declined to comment on the allegations. Still, a company statement said the firm was committed to communicating its views on matters of public policy in a transparent manner and denied manually altering searches. Google said it used paid and unpaid methods to advocate for its positions, including promoting content on its homepage and sending emails to YouTubers.

The spokesman added that the company was complying with Brazilian law, which requires it to mark any promotion as propaganda and explain its political position. The statement also states that it must be transparent when directing search results to articles that contradict its position. The statement added that the company must also be transparent about any interference with its search autocomplete options. Many users of the popular search engine reported seeing odd autocomplete suggestions, such as “the bill can grow misinformation online and harm you” or “the bill will make your internet worse.”

Trending Now:

Recommended for "The Publishers Weekly"

Most Popular Articles