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Brazil Returns Attention to Data Privacy

Brazil Returns Attention to Data Privacy

In the wake of intelligence links by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, Brazil has returned its attention to concerns over the data privacy of Brazilian citizens by refocusing attention on the Marco Civil da Internet.

The recent concern centers on the question of whether or not telecommunications companies operating in Brazil cooperated with the U.S. in a surveillance program that collected data from billions of telephone and email conversations around the world. This concern quickly spread to encompass search engine giant Google and their data collection and data privacy policies.

Brazil’s “Internet Constitution”

Brazil’s interest in how Internet data is used by telecommunications companies is not new. The Marco Civil da Internet, also known as the “Internet Constitution,” was introduced to Congress in 2009. The stated goal of the Internet Constitution is to promote network neutrality while protecting online freedom of expression and personal data privacy.

According to Brazil’s Communications Minister Paulo Bernardo Silva, “The ideal thing would be for these companies to keep their data in the country so it can be available should Brazil’s justice system request it.”

However, voting on the proposed law has been rescheduled many times over the years, partly due to aggressive lobbying by telecommunications companies. One of the provisions they opposed at the time was that the law would prohibit them from analyzing, monitoring, filtering, or checking the content of data packages. The effect would be that they could not restrict connection speeds based on the type of content being accessed by users.

Brazil Wants Brazilian Data Stored in Brazil

The most recent amendment to the proposed Internet Constitution is the requirement that telecommunications companies store Brazilian data in Brazil.

The response from Google and Facebook was swift. They oppose the amendments partly because they expect that they would be required to build local data centers in Brazil and tackle huge “technical challenges.” They also argue that the location of data centers is irrelevant since the data can be accessed from anywhere. The manager of Facebook Governmental Relations in Brazil, Bruno Magrani, went on to comment that the proposed amendment might jeopardize Internet service throughout Brazil.

Others are quick to point out that there are already international laws that regulate personal data privacy and security, so adding new regulations will make it more difficult for Internet businesses to operate in Brazil.

Still, the issue of data privacy and security is personal. Balancing personal data security with the advances of technology is extremely difficult.