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Brazil Sues Twitter Over Speed Trap Tweets

Brazilian government demands Twitter block accounts which warn users about traffic checkpoints and speed traps

The Brazilian government has filed a preliminary injunction against Twitter, ordering the site to block tweets and accounts that warn users about the location and number of speed traps and traffic roadblocks.

The lawsuit accuses Twitter of several violations of Brazilian criminal and traffic codes and also says that the conduct of the company and those who use it puts the general population at risk, according to news agency O Globo.

Anti-‘blitz’ tweeters

The case was filed by the Attorney General of the Union (AGU) and demands that the company pay 500,000 reals (£183,000) per day until offending accounts were blocked. The key concern of prosecutors and police is that Twitter is being used to undermine efforts to curb drink-driving and speeding, among other traffic offenses, in the country.

“The prosecution responded to a necessity to ensure the effectiveness of action on surveillance of the federal highway police,” chief prosecutor Celmo Ricardo Teixeira da Silva told O Globo.

A Twitter account with nearly 12,000 followers, @RadarBlitzGo, shut down soon after the case was announced, while another, @LeiSecaRJ, has been tweeting defiance alongside its regular traffic ‘blitz’ information to more than 287,000 followers. The audience size for the latter is proof of how popular such information has become and why the Brazilian authorities are keen to stamp it out.

Today’s preliminary injunction is the latest to inflame anti-censorship protestors. Yesterday, a Delhi court demanded that 21 internet firms produce strategies to prevent offensive material appearing online, and the Brazilian government last month told Twitter to block accounts that warned of police operations.

In response to many other international requests, Google and Twitter both recently announced plans to filter content by country, thereby streamlining the process and avoiding blanket censorship, though this has been criticised by some as facilitating state oppression.