Apple suspends Secret downloads in Brazil under anonymity injunction

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Apple has halted downloads of the anonymous messaging app Secret from its Brazilian App Store, following a preliminary injunction by a Vitória civil court earlier this week.

According to local media reports, Secret is still in Apple‘s Brazilian App Store but cannot be downloaded. iOS users with non-Brazilian accounts can apparently still download the app, and there’s no sign of Apple remotely wiping or disabling the app, as the injunction also orders it to.

The injunction was granted to a public prosecutor, who said many people had complained about bullying taking place on Secret. As a countering balance to its free speech provisions, the Brazilian constitution forbids anonymity – you can say what you like, but you can’t do so anonymously because that would mean your target can’t defend herself. (This doesn’t apply to journalistic sources, who can remain anonymous.)

When granting the injunction, the judge also noted that any request for removal of a comment would need to go to a U.S. judge via Brazil’s foreign ministry. Even though Secret does hold identifying user information, the court said this is an excessively difficult complaints procedure, and also held that Secret’s promises of anonymity were unconstitutional.

Google and Microsoft have reportedly not yet followed suit in blocking downloads of Secret, and Secret client Cryptic, respectively. They still have a week to do so, before they start getting daily fines for non-compliance.

As the injunction is only emergency relief, ahead of a final ruling, there’s still a chance that the mobile platform operators will get away without having to nix Secret — I’m sure their lawyers are arguing their case strongly — but for now we should assume that they won’t.

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