Federal Police accuse Google and Telegram of ‘abuse of power’ in positions against PL 2630

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The Federal Police concluded that Google and Telegram may have committed crimes against consumer relations by criticizing PL 2630, whose objective is to regulate publications on social networks and the internet.

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The inquiry, established in June last year by order of minister Alexandre de Moraesfrom the Federal Supreme Court (STF), was concluded on Wednesday 31st.

“Large technology companies, namely Google Brazil and Telegram Braziladopted impactful and questionable strategies contrary to the approval of Bill 2,630/2020,” says the Federal Police, in the report.

To incriminate the two companies, the corporation relied on press reports and a study conducted by the Internet and Social Media Studies Laboratory at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. According to the PF, this study “exposed the use of artifices by these corporations in a campaign characterized by disinformation and manipulation”. “This action, based on its dominant position in the market, aimed to protect its economic interests, leaving advertisers and consumers vulnerable.”

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The PF report mentions a text published on Google’s home page against PL 2630. In it, the company spoke about the confusion that the project could cause between truth and lies in Brazil.

Telegram, according to the report, “incited its millions of users to vigorously attack the project, creating an environment conducive to putting pressure on parliamentarians”. “Like Google Brasil, Telegram Brasil encouraged its users to put pressure on congressmen, providing a direct link to the Chamber of Deputies Portal”, accuses the PF.

Because of this — the encouragement of pressure on parliamentarians — the Chamber of Deputies even mentioned the possible crime of violent abolition of the Democratic Rule of Law, as described in the Penal Code: “Trying, by using violence or serious threat , abolish the Democratic Rule of Law, preventing or restricting the exercise of constitutional powers.”

In the report, however, the PF does not mention the crime against the democratic order, but says that “the actions of those represented appear to constitute crimes against the consumerist order, promoting misleading and abusive advertising”.

These offenses are set out in the Consumer Protection Code and in the Law on Crimes against the Tax Order:

Law 8,078/1990

  • Article 67. Make or promote advertising that you know or should know to be misleading or abusive:
  • Penalty – Detention from three months to one year and fine.

Law 8,137/1990

  • Art. 7°. The following constitutes a crime against consumer relations:
  • VII – mislead the consumer or user, through false or misleading indications or statements about the nature, quality of the good or service, using any means, including the placement or dissemination of advertising;
  • Penalty – detention, from 2 (two) to 5 (five) years, or fine.

“In short, the actions of the companies Google Brasil and Telegram Brasil not only question commercial ethics, but demonstrate abuse of economic power, manipulation of information and possible violations against the consumerist order”, concludes the Federal Police.

Google and Telegram deny illegal acts against PL 2630

Google and Telegram demonstrations were taken down | Photo: Reproduction

During the inquiry, Google said it “never conducted a smear campaign in relation to the aforementioned bill.” The president of the Brazilian operation, Fabio Coelho, stated that the publication published on the company’s home screen and blog, in May 2023, had the objective of “demonstrating the possibility of improving the PL text, not reflecting opposition to regulation” .

Telegram declared that there was no abuse of economic power, because its nature is “essentially free”, and it does not make a profit in Brazil. The company’s president, Pavel Durov, declared to the PF that the publication distributed to its users was opinionated in nature and the objective was to “inform about changes in Telegram services in Brazil, and is not illegal or uninformative”.

The two companies also stated that the publications contrary to PL 2630 were based on the exercise of the right to freedom of expression.

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Federal Police accuse Google Telegram abuse power positions

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