Brazilian Lawmakers File Complaint Against Google for Controversial ‘Slavery Simulator’ Game

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A game titled “Simulador de Escravidão” or “Slavery Simulator” that allowed users to simulate the Atlantic slave trade in 17th century Brazil was available for download on Google Play for about a month. The game, which involved buying, selling, punishing, and sexualizing enslaved people, sparked outrage and led to complaints from Brazilian lawmakers and advocacy groups.

Federal lawmaker Orlando Silva de Jesus Junior criticized the game, highlighting its insensitivity considering Brazil’s history and the fact that racism is a crime in the country. Silva, along with André Alexandre Garcia da Silva from the racial justice advocacy group Unegro, filed a complaint with the nation’s Public Prosecutor’s Office, accusing Google of violating a Brazilian law that prohibits discrimination or prejudice based on race, color, ethnicity, religion, or national origin. Silva expressed his intent to seek severe consequences, including the arrest of those responsible.

The complaint also requested an investigation into offensive reviews on Google Play, including one that praised the simulation for accurately depicting the reviewer’s desires for real-life actions involving slavery.

Google Brazil stated that its app store has robust policies aimed at ensuring user safety and that apps promoting violence or inciting hatred are not allowed. The company encouraged users to report any potential violations they come across.

The controversy surrounding the game prompted other politicians and organizations to submit their own complaints and condemn its existence. The Brazilian Bar Association called the game a step backward and a manifestation of a racist mentality that should not exist.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office initiated an inquiry into why the game was available on the platform, giving Google three days to provide specific information about the game and its approval process.

The developer, Magnus Games, which offers a range of simulator-style games, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The “Slavery Simulator” game and others from the developer appeared to be available on other Android app installer sites.

The incident reignited the debate about the regulation of digital spaces in Brazil. Lawmaker Orlando Silva highlighted the need for legislation, such as PL 2630, known as the “fake news law,” which aims to regulate Big Tech companies and social media platforms. The bill, facing opposition from major companies and free speech activists, would require internet companies to report illegal content and impose fines for noncompliance. Silva argued that the existence of such a controversial game demonstrated the urgency of regulating the digital environment.

The case has brought attention to the responsibilities of technology companies in ensuring appropriate content and raising questions about the need for stricter regulations in the digital space.

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