A court in Brazil has ruled (via UOL) that Apple and Google must remove Secret, the anonymous social networking app, from their mobile software stores – and also from user devices where it’s already installed. The court has issued a preliminary injunction in the case, pending the results of a final ruling, as a result of a complaints by users harmed by rumors spread via the app, who said that the app was used to share an “intimate photo” of him, which included personal identifying information including his full name and telephone number.
Brazil has laws on the books in its constitutional document that make anonymity illegal, which are specifically designed to make sure that anyone accused of someone in the public forum has the chance to answer and refute their accuser. The text of the decision specifically cites Secret’s potential as a bullying mechanism as a reason for the decision, which is designed to provide emergency relief for the affected party while the court continues to deliberate.
The banning of the app from software stores should be fairly easy to comply with for Apple and Google (and Microsoft, which faces a similar injunction for a third-party Secret client called Cryptic) but the injunction actually goes so far as to require that the companies remotely wipe the app from existing devices. That’s a tall order, of course, but the court has also applied a fine of around $9,000 per day following a 10-day grace period in case the rules haven’t been followed.
Fixing these problems for Secret, which experienced a boom of popularity in Brazil prior to this court case, would involve at the very least building a team of human workers that can scour and identify potentially damaging or dangerous content before it’s posted and regularly scrubbing the network. Still, there’s yet to be a final ruling in the case, so we’ll have to wait until that’s handed down to find out exactly where the company stands relative to this market in the end.