Internet Protections Enshrined In Brazil's Marco Civil Framework Under Threat From New Laws
from the this-is-why-we-can't-have-nice-things dept
A couple of years ago, Techdirt wrote about Brazil’s Marco Civil — variously called a “constitution for the Internet,” and a “Magna Carta for the Web.” Whatever you want to call it, the Marco Civil was a heartening example of the rights of Internet users being strengthened for a change. In June 2015, one year after it passed, an article on the Council on Foreign Relations site noted its wide-ranging impact:
The Marco Civil has been instrumental in curbing the power of the Brazilian government from having undue influence over the net and its content. The law prevents the government from taking down or regulating content, or exercising any pressure on online platforms (e.g. the Twitters and YouTubes of the world) or Internet service providers. Only the courts, by means of due process, and limited by clear legal thresholds, can actually take action regarding online content when it infringes on other rights.
Of course, this was too good to last. As Andrew McLaughlin explains on Medium, the Marco Civil is in danger:
Amid the tumult and chaos of Brazil’s current (and colossal) political crisis, the moment of counter-attack has arrived. Under the guise of fighting “cybercrime”, a group of Brazilian legislators, acting via a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry, has introduced 8 bills that, to state it directly, would give the Brazilian government sweeping powers to censor and control the Internet.
The EFF has a summary of what those bills propose:
Allowing police warrantless access to IP addresses;
Requiring sites and apps to monitor content to prevent new sharing of materials already deemed offensive by court decision;
Criminalizing improper computer system access that presents a “risk of misuse or disclosure” of data, even if no actual misuse or disclosure occurs — broad and vague terms that also apply to actions with no criminal intent, jeopardizing legitimate security research that might never be done if obtaining prior permission were a legal requirement;
Allowing judges, in direct violation of net neutrality rules, to block sites and applications that are used for criminal purposes or that don’t comply with demands for user information.
Clearly, if these bills pass in their present form, they will nullify many of the safeguards found in the Marco Civil. The key vote is expected to take place on April 27, and the EFF has a page where you can ask Brazilian lawmakers to reject the proposals. There is also a joint statement to the Brazilian congress, which companies active in the country are invited to sign.