- Felipe Souza – @felipe_dess
- From BBC News Brazil in Sao Paulo
Updated 5 hours ago
Searching an auction site, businessman Gabriel Baggio Thomaz, 29, says he found the domain www.bolsonaro.com.br among those that did not have their payment renewed and were available for sale.
In an interview with BBC News Brasil, he says that this happened last year, but that he only produced content and published it in 2022.
The site became one of the most talked about topics on social networks this Wednesday (31/08). This occurred because the domain has the last name of the President of the Republic, Jair Bolsonaro (PL), but the content is precisely against him. There is even a drawing that associates the president with Nazism.
The Minister of Justice and Public Security, Anderson Torres, said that he asked the director-general of the Federal Police “to initiate an immediate police investigation, for the proper investigation of the facts”.
When questioned, Gabriel did not say how much the domain cost. “I think that might be distracting,” he says. But he related what the process to buy it would have been like.
“It was something very unusual. I was in the mood to start a business and scoured the site to see if it had any interesting domains. But you don’t expect something like this to appear. I was just looking at a list with thousands of names. I was assiduous.” , says Gabriel in an interview with BBC News Brazil.
He states that he is not sure how he found the domain, but that he used to list the available ones in Excel to filter them more precisely.
“At first, I thought someone had wavered and I suspected if that opportunity was real. I kept quiet so as not to spread the idea. I registered to participate in the auction and defined a maximum amount that I could pay for that domain. Then there was a process to think about what this purchase would imply”, he says.
According to him, the first auction for the domain took place in December, but someone else placed the highest bid and had the opportunity to acquire it. But that person, says the businessman, did not pay.
“Shortly after, the Registro.br website invited me, for being the runner-up, for a new buying opportunity. I bought for much less than I thought I would pay. I confess that I thought I wouldn’t have the money. what I spent was negligible”, he says without revealing the value.
He says, however, that a simple domain costs around R$400 at an auction, but that one that contains an important word can cost a few thousand reais. Some internationals even reach the figure of millions of dollars.
A lawyer specializing in industrial property at Camelier Advogados Associados, Beatriz Marques Rangel says that the Administrative System for Internet Conflicts (Saci) requires the domain owner to follow certain rules.
“A person cannot apply for a domain registration that will attack someone’s image. We are talking about moral damages, because the site is linking the person Bolsonaro with Nazi actions. In addition, Bolsonaro is the name of a family and he is also reaching the honor of all people with that surname,” he said.
Rangel says that Registro.br’s contract provides for the website owner to properly choose the domain name to be registered so that it does not violate the law.
“He cannot mislead third parties, much less violate the rights of third parties. Nor can he use profanity or abusive terms with the domain name”, says the expert.
Production and freedom of expression
Gabriel says that once he bought the domain, he started planning what to do with it.
“I read laws, thought about art proposals and, little by little, I materialized the idea of having an art gallery, because it’s something I like. There was a time when I thought I wasn’t going to do anything, but one day I I determined to do it and it came out pretty quick,” he said.
He said that all the texts were made by him, but that the arts were produced by other people, without revealing who.
“The texts are the result of a four-year accumulation of absorbing the president’s nonsense. I spoke what was inside my heart. I wrote and set up the site with what was kept in my heart. Afterwards, I only looked for news and videos that corroborated with what is written. It was easy. It was an emotional catharsis”, says the businessman over the phone.
Gabriel says that he tried to construct the texts in a less emotional way and that he safeguards his right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution. Asked about the Bolsonaro government’s statement that it will file a lawsuit against him, Gabriel says he is surprised and upset.
“It’s very sad that this comes from people who say they are in favor of freedom of expression. They sell themselves as defenders of freedom, but in practice they are trying to curtail the right of expression and my private freedom. The site is mine, I’m not a politician . I lost a relative in this wave of covid and now everyone has everything to lose. They are going after my company, my family. Let’s see if I have the right to freedom of the press, “he said.
But to what extent can one use freedom of expression to speak out?
The electoral law professor at FGV Rio Silvana Batini said that this is a very complex question and that it is not yet possible to say who is right in the case of the site.
“I cannot say whether it is protected or not. Generally speaking, the electoral law and a resolution by the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) guarantee the free expression of thought of the person and the identifiable voter. This guarantees a very great freedom of thought. , but cannot be a legal entity,” he said.
However, the FGV professor says that this limit is the offense to honor or disclosure of untrue facts, better known today as fake news. However, she says that the jurisprudence tends to favor the voter, even in the case of severe criticism and even the use of cartoons.
“You have to look at the content and see if there is anything offensive to honor, which is where there is room for subjectivity. But during the electoral period, especially in relation to politicians in office (like Bolsonaro), these public persons are more subject to to acid criticism. Cases like this are usually investigated and then shelved”, he said.
Once the site went viral on social media, Gabriel said he received a flood of requests for interviews. But in the midst of these messages came insults and even threats.
“I didn’t expect that there would be newspapers looking for me. There were also people calling me a PT thief. I know they will come after them. I knew they were going to bark. It’s the cowardice of anonymity. There are people spreading hate,” he said.
The report asked if Gabriel was wanted by any political party. He denied it and even asked them to avoid him.
“I would urge parties to be cautious. I advise politicians and parties not to contact me. I just want to speak up as an individual. I don’t want to talk to them. I want to leave the black and white. I don’t want to navigate this gray zone to not give arguments to those who want to harm me. I did everything with my brain and my pocket. If a flood of lawsuits comes, then I ask for financial help to defend myself”, he says.
During the interview, the businessman said that he does not use social networks and just wants to take advantage of the website he created to express himself.
“If I can go back in the dark later, I’d rather. I’m glad there are more people speaking out about it. Our society depends on people speaking out about what they think,” he said.
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