What the Daniela Cicarelli case says about the Internet

YouTube was recently blocked in much of Brazil when one of the country’s largest fixed-line telephone operators responded to a judicial order banning a video of Brazilian supermodel Daniela Cicarelli, ex-wife of soccer star Ronaldo, apparently having not-so-surreptitious sex with her boyfriend on the beach. The judge in the case said fixed-line operators that allow ...

YouTube was recently blocked in much of Brazil when one of the country's largest fixed-line telephone operators responded to a judicial order banning a video of Brazilian supermodel Daniela Cicarelli, ex-wife of soccer star Ronaldo, apparently having not-so-surreptitious sex with her boyfriend on the beach.

YouTube was recently blocked in much of Brazil when one of the country’s largest fixed-line telephone operators responded to a judicial order banning a video of Brazilian supermodel Daniela Cicarelli, ex-wife of soccer star Ronaldo, apparently having not-so-surreptitious sex with her boyfriend on the beach.

The judge in the case said fixed-line operators that allow access to Internet providers must participate in the ban until YouTube complies with an order to prevent the steamy video from being viewed in Brazil.

It’s a hot story in and of itself, but the case raises broader questions over who controls the Internet, or if regulation of any type is even possible. YouTube is based in the United States, but its videos are of course accessible worldwide. Whose laws should it obey, if it even can obey? YouTube says it has removed the racy clip, but people continue to upload it to the site using different names, according to the lawyer of Cicarelli’s boyfriend.

The Cicarelli case proves that, for better or worse, the World Wide Web is still the Wild, Wild West—an unbridled force in a world with no universally recognized government. 

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP

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