Brazilian Lawmakers Approve Marco Civil Bill
Brazil is now among the first group of countries to directly address the issue of Internet rights at the national level. Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies voted to approve the Marco Civil da Internet, which contains groundbreaking provisions for net neutrality and online privacy rights.
If the bill clears the Federal Senate and is approved by President Dilma Rousseff, it will place Brazil among the world’s leaders in establishing a set of principles and rights for Internet users. Some have gone so far as to call the Marco Civil the first “Internet Constitution.”
The bill was introduced to Congress back in 2009. However, voting on the bill was rescheduled repeatedly over the years. The delays were due, in part, to lobbying by telecommunications companies in an effort to block restrictions that would prohibit them from monitoring the content of data packages and restricting data speeds based on content.
International Espionage Put the Bill Back on Track
It was the widespread outrage over Edward Snowden’s leaks about the NSA’s international data collection programs that got the stalled bill moving again. The revelations about the data collection programs immediately raised the discussion to the level of human rights and national sovereignty.
To protect the personal information of Brazilians, President Rousseff publically called for laws that would require Internet companies like Google and Facebook to house Brazilian Internet data within Brazil. However, the controversial local storage requirements were ultimately dropped from the bill to speed up passage.
The Preservation of Net Neutrality
Net neutrality is one of the biggest issues of Internet freedom. Telecommunications companies want to have the power to favor certain types of Internet traffic over others in terms of speed and cost.
If the bill is voted into law, Brazil will join the Netherlands, Slovenia, and Chile as the first countries to establish a neutral Internet. The provisions of the Marco Civil guarantee net neutrality and allow further regulation by the President with input from the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee and ANATEL, Brazil’s national telecommunications agency.
Intermediary Liability and Copyright Law
Another provision of the Marco Civil deals with the liability of intermediaries for content uploaded by third parties. The Marco Civil provides that intermediaries can only be held liable if they fail to comply with a court order demanding that uploaded content be removed.
Issues of copyright infringement are not governed by the Marco Civil, but they are expected to be sorted out as a part of Brazil’s future efforts to overhaul its copyright laws.