In a recent decision from the Brazilian Superior Court of Justice (Superior Tribunal de Justiça – “STJ”), Google has been ordered to disclose data from its Gmail users’ accounts for the instruction of police investigations. Such decision, however, has found resistance to be complied with by Google, since the internet company claims that its servers are located in the United States, which means that such stored data cannot be affected by the Brazilian jurisdiction.
Google servers are physically located in the U.S.A. In order to have access to such stored data, one should act in accordance to the American legal system. Brazilian and American authorities have a cooperation mechanism which regulates the exchange of data between the countrieson satisfactory standards. While most internet companies tend to fully comply with the judicial decisions rendered by the Brazilian authorites, Google argues that it cannot carry out such determination in disagreement with the American regulation. On its defense, Google indicates the manifestations of the American Department of Justice, which provide that the diplomatic means should be used for the obtaining of electronic information (i.e. the aforementioned cooperation mechanism), instead of the judicial means.
Brazilian Public Attorney’s Office (Ministério Público Federal – “MPF”) arguments that, considering that Google has an established affiliate company in the Brazilian territory, it should be subordinated to Brazilian laws. According to the MPF, electronic mail stored in the USA could be internally exchanged between the companies (Google Brasil and Google US) in order to comply with the decisions from the Brazilian Courts.
The STJ decision has determined that Google should breach the confidentiality of the messages exchanged between individuals that have been under police investigation in Brazil for practice of several crimes, such as racketeering, corruption, fraud bidding, money laundering and influence peddling.
The company has been ordered to deliver the emails within ten days and the non compliance of such order shall result on a daily fine of R$ 50,000.00 (fifty thousand Brazilian reais).