Facebook was fined R$800,000 for refusing to provide account data associated with the Islamic State months before the 2016 Rio Olympics. Techblog, the social network received court orders to deliver the information of users suspected of being involved with the terrorist organization, under penalty of a daily fine of R$ 100,000. She provided them, but eight days late. STF minister Carmen Lúcia rejected the company’s appeal to the Supreme Court.
STJ says Facebook accepted decision 1 month later
According to the decision of the STJ of December 12, 2020, the Techblog had access, Facebook did not respond to three court subpoenas to deliver data on possible members of the Islamic State who planned terrorist attacks on Brazilian territory during the 2016 Olympics. In the same period, the Federal Police launched Operation Hashtag, which investigates the activity of the extremist organization on the internet on the eve of the Olympic Games in Brazil.
In the inquiry, opened on May 9, 2016, the PF investigated the activity of social network profiles such as Twitter and Facebook and identified posts of a “radical” or “support and promotion of the international terrorist organization known as the Islamic State (EI)” )”. The investigation even collaborated with one of the largest terrorism police in the world: the FBI, which identified members of an IS cell in Brazil.
The 14th Federal Court of Curitiba, then, removed, via a court order, the confidentiality of data and contents of private messages or e-mails from these accounts, and requested the profile information from Facebook on May 20th. The company did not fulfill the first order. The court issued two more subpoenas on June 3 and 15. The platform only complied with the court order on the 30th, or eight days after the deadline.
Due to the delay, the daily penalty of R$100 thousand increased to R$800 thousand. When applying the fine, the STJ stated that, in the context, the situation involving Facebook was serious and of extreme urgency due to the approximation with the Olympics in Rio; and also recognizes the “gigantic economic capacity” of the company.
In the STJ’s decision, the Federal Police Department claimed that the first summons to receive data from the social network was made on June 16:
“[Entre] June 16 and June 30, Facebook. Inc. received 03 requests from the Federal Police Department and the FBI, which resulted in the disclosure of data from more than 80 (eighty) targets and more than 130,000 (one hundred and thirty thousand) pages of data”.
Facebook’s appeal is denied by the STF
Facebook filed an appeal against the fine decision, which was rejected by Minister Jorge Mussi, vice president of the STJ. In his decision, Mussi says that the social network, even having complied with the court order to deliver the data, did so with a delay of eight days. If the volume of data was too large, the social network was enough to notify the authorities, and not delay delivery. He highlights the delay in the platform’s response, which was aware of the Federal Police’s investigation since May 20th.
The case went to the plenary of the Supreme Federal Court and minister Carmen Lúcia was chosen as rapporteur. The appeal request, filed on April 8, 2021 at the STF, was rejected on the 28th: it maintained the STJ’s argumentative basis in its decision to deny Facebook’s appeal.
The minister’s decision was published in the Electronic Justice Gazette (DJE). The case was sent to the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) for subpoena purposes and, subsequently, was sent to the 2nd Panel of the STF for judgment.
Once again, Carmen Lúcia voted to deny Facebook’s request; she was accompanied by Ricardo Lewandowski, Nunes Marques and Edson Fachin. However, Minister Gilmar Mendes asked to be seen and temporarily suspended the action in the Supreme Court. There is no forecast when it will resume.
Trench Rossi Watanabe, the legal firm that defends Facebook in the lawsuit, could not comment on the case to Techblog for confidentiality reasons. Facebook responded to our contact, but did not send a placement until this article was published.