Brazil passes groundbreaking Internet governance Bill

Brazil passes groundbreaking Internet governance Bill

Summary: Key provisions around net neutrality, right to privacy and freedom of expression online are part of the country's first "Internet Constitution"

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Brazil has made history with the approval of a groundbreaking post-Snowden Bill which sets out principles, rights and guarantees for Internet users.

Last night (25), an overwhelming majority of Brazil's Chamber of Deputies voted in favor of the Marco Civil da Internet and its provisions around net neutrality, right to privacy and freedom of expression online.

The Bill, which now needs to be cleared by the Senate before it is sanctioned by president Dilma Rousseff, had its voting postponed several times in the last three years. It gained prominence after the NSA spying scandal and became the center of a political minefield due to disagreement over several crucial points.

The provisions around net neutrality are a key reason why the Bill is considered a major victory for the civil society and activists alike. Just as in other countries, telcos want to maintain their ability to favor certain internet services over others to their own commercial advantage - if it becomes law, the Marco Civil will ensure that this can't happen.

In order to speed up the progress of the Bill, the government gave up on the local storage requirements last week. The measure was intended to ensure the privacy of Internet users as well as government data following the news of NSA spying activity, which allegedly included monitoring of communications between President Dilma Rousseff and key aides.

Due to the removal of the requirement for local storage, the project rapporteur Alessandro Molon stressed the need to "strengthen" another article of the Bill, which states that companies storing and managing data generated by Brazilians should comply with Brazilian law when it comes to privacy rights, data protection and secrecy of private communications regardless of where datacenters - and the data itself - are located.

The Marco Civil also preserves protection against intermediary responsibility, which means that Internet service providers will not be liable for any offensive content published by users - currently, Brazil has no specific rules on this and court decisions vary around whether companies or users should be penalized over offensive pages.

According to the Bill, service providers will only be liable for damage caused by third parties if they don't comply with court orders requiring the removal of the offensive content. The purpose of the rule, according to the project's rapporteur Molon, is to strengthen freedom of expression on the web and avoid falling into what he defined as "private censorship."

The Bill is still subject to changes by the Senate, but its supporters are confident that the Marco Civil might, after all, become law before NETmundial, the global conference on Internet governance that will take place in Brazil next month.

Topics: Mobility, Broadband, Government, Privacy, IT Security in the Snowden Era

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14 comments
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  • Misleading headline

    If only one house of Congress has passed the bill, it's not yet law. You say that in the article, but the headline leaves the impression that this is a done deal.
    John L. Ries
    • No worries on that front...

      No worries on that front, both senate and Dilma will sign it. It would be a political suicide for anybody in Brazil to vote against it.
      lmhorta@...
      • Unfortunately

        This is inded an excuse for "political censorship" from the communist party! This is a sad moment to freedom of speech on the internet!
        jfbinthenet
  • Why can't the US learn from Brazil?

    Wow, what an earth shattering revelation! It's supposed to be about what the PEOPLE want isn't it?
    trybble1
    • What exaclty you want US learn from Brazil?

      This law is just a excuse to censor de internet. The 19th article says any judge can remove content from internet based on "Collectivity's Interest". So any non-mainstream opinion can be removed only because a group felt hurt by it. This is not free speech. And the "people" in Brazil didn't want it. Most of them doesn't have any idea about it. The rest, who knows are split between socialists and communists (who are for it) and freedom of speech supporters.
      Is the law all bad? No it isn't. But it is just a Trojan horse.
      Marcvs Vinicivs
      • Reply to "What exaclty you want US learn from Brazil?"

        Yup. Here, I'm hoping the Canadian gov't will pass laws to protect/maintain net neutrality. I also want to them to protect the freedom of speech (audio/visual spoken opinion, and text opinion), and the right of the public to video and audio record police operating in public. I also want the Canadian gov't to pass Internet laws against human trafficking including against prostitution, pornography, the trade in human smuggling, and similar where the Internet is involved.
        Time Agora
        • This may sound a bit autistic to you...

          ...but legislative authority is vested in Parliament, not the Government.

          I keep on seeing complaints from Canadians that party discipline is excessive and that both the federal Parliament and provincial legislatures are little more than rubber stamps for their respective governments, but how can it be otherwise when citizens talk about governments passing bills instead parliaments; and themselves voting for candidates for Prime Minister instead of candidates for Parliament?
          John L. Ries
          • Reply to "This may sound a bit autistic to you..."

            It doesn't sound autistic at all, it sounds pedantic.

            I'm using the term gov't in a 'catch all' manner here. I realize there is a House of Commons, a Senate, a Governor General, a Bill of Rights and a Constitution and Elizabeth II. Hey, if you keep looking at it you'll be back at the signing of the Magna Carta on a bank of the River Thames

            Nevertheless, fair is fair.
            Time Agora
          • But if you want Parliament to be more than a rubber stamp...

            ...then talk like you're electing a parliament instead of a government and like it's Parliament that's legislating instead of the government.

            Here in the 'States we don't talk about the President passing bills, but Congress doing so, even if those bills are proposed by the Administration.
            John L. Ries
          • Reply to "But if you want Parliament to be more than a rubber stamp... "

            The executive branch is not entirely separate from the legislative.

            In Canada "the government" is in parliament to some degree. The ministers of the various government departments are usually parliamentarians. The Prime Minister is usually an elected parliamentarian. Some bills are considered confidence motions.

            AFAICT, unless one is being exacting, one refers to the elected ministers and their departments (and even the ruling party's backbenchers all), as "the government". Bills do not generally pass (or even get voted on) unless the government wants to see them pass. or allows them to be voted on.

            I'm generalizing of course, because Canadian government all told is quite complicated.
            Time Agora
      • Appears to be a campaign plank...

        ...but the biggest advantage of a bicameral legislature is that if one house passes a flawed bill, the other has a chance to fix it before it becomes law. Brazilians with concerns should contact their Senators.
        John L. Ries
        • Brazilian Congress

          The political situation in Brasil at the moment my friend is very delicate, if i can say like that! The "comunist" party called PT and the other parties that simpatize with "comunism" are the majority now! So it became very difficult to go against them! It's the beginning of a second Venezuela, as they are from the same group all part of a communist organization called "Foro de Sao Paulo".
          jfbinthenet
  • Misleadind text.

    "This law is just a excuse to censor de internet. The 19th article says any judge can remove content from internet based on "Collectivity's Interest". So any non-mainstream opinion can be removed only because a group felt hurt by it. This is not free speech. And the "people" in Brazil didn't want it. Most of them doesn't have any idea about it. The rest, who knows are split between socialists and communists (who are for it) and freedom of speech supporters.
    Is the law all bad? No it isn't. But it is just a Trojan horse." As a brazilian i totally agree with my fellow country man that wrote that! The current "comunist" regime in Brazil is already controling great part of the "judiciary system" (as they did in Venezuela, for they are part of the same group), and this is an excuse for them to censor the internet to their own political advantage! Don't be fooled! This is more like what they do in North Corea coming to us, unfortunately!
    jfbinthenet
  • The Marco has nothing to do with censorship

    Hello jfbinthenet. The Marco Civil takes responsibility for content posted by third parties away from providers exactly to ensure that the freedom of expression of Internet users is maintained. Rather than being created by the government, the Marco Civil was created collectively during four long years of discussions with the help of A LOT of people including civil society organizations focused on freedom of expression and consumer rights groups. So it is a collective bill of rights that ended up getting support of the government because of the spying episodes from last year. Do you think that if that was not the case, the creator of the World Wide Web Sir Tim BL would have stated last week that the world needs a "constitution for the internet" in order to protect the interests of its users? I believe that this process has started in Brazil with the Marco Civil. So please read http://marcocivil.com.br/, which has plenty of information about the topic and try not to base your opinion on Facebook memes and other info disseminated by massively biased, political groups in the opposition who are in the pockets of you-know-who.
    Angelica Mari