A Brazilian judge reversed course Tuesday and lifted an order that led to a ban of YouTube across much of the country because a sexy video of supermodel Daniela Cicarelli and her boyfriend kept circulating against the boyfriend's wishes.
Sao Paulo state Supreme Court Justice Enio Santarelli Zuliani asked telecommunications companies and Internet providers across Latin America's largest nation to stop blocking the popular video-sharing site immediately. He also wanted to know why the companies can't simply prevent the video from being seen without pulling the plug on the entire site.
But some of the companies have already said it was technically impossible for them to filter out only the video, so they blocked the site to ensure they would comply legally.
The widely viewed video shows Cicarelli and Brazilian banker Renato Malzoni in intimate scenes along a beach near the Spanish city of Cadiz. It became even more popular over the weekend after the announcement of the Brazil ban made headlines worldwide and users posted the clip to a slew of other Web sites not subject to Zuliani's order.
Cicarelli, one of the country's best-known models, hosts a show on Brazilian MTV and was previously engaged to soccer great Ronaldo, who plays for Spain's famous Real Madrid team.
Although YouTube had removed links to the video after Cicarelli and Malzoni sued, Malzoni sought and won an expanded order after other users kept resubmitting the video, his lawyer said.
In reversing the expanded order Tuesday, Zuliani warned in a statement he still could reinstate a ban if YouTube fails to install software that will prohibit access to the video and protect the privacy of Cicarelli and her boyfriend.
Zuliani's reversal came after just hours after Spanish-owned Telefonica SA issued a statement saying it had blocked YouTube, preventing millions of Internet users in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro from viewing video on the site Google Inc. bought in November for about $1.76 billion.
Telefonica's announcement affecting Brazil's biggest cities and most populous states came a day after telecommunications company Brasil Telecom SA confirmed that it had blocked the site in a swath of the country stretching from the capital of Brasilia to the Amazon.
The ban was widely criticized by Internet users and press freedom groups that said YouTube was unfairly punished by a near-total block that didn't work anyway because people had already loaded the clip onto other sites.
"While it is essential that judges ensure that the right to privacy is respected, blocking access to this site, which agreed to withdraw the offending video, is a radical and inappropriate measure and one that it is anyway ineffective," Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.
Even before Zuliani lifted the order, YouTube was still viewable Tuesday by Internet users with access from Brazil's No. 1 telecommunications company, Empresa Brasileira de Telecomunicacoes SA. Embratel said it was reviewing the order to determine how it can comply.
The judge last week ordered YouTube to prevent the video from being seen by Brazilians, also ordering fixed-line operators that provide the gateway to Internet providers to take part in the ban until it prove that the clip cannot be accessed in Brazil on its site.
The judge's press office insisted last week that the ban applied only to the video, but Telefonica and Brasil Telecom said the orders they received required them to block the site.