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Marco Civil Rights Threatened in Brazil

Watch out! The Brazilian Congress is trying to butcher the Brazilian Civil Rights Framework for the Internet!

(Original version here)

Civil society organizations part of the coalition pro Marco Civil ('Articulação Marco Civil Já!') repudiate parliamentary initiatives that threaten Internet users privacy and freedom of expression.

Currently there are three different Bills under way in the House of Representatives that threaten one of the most important and democratic gains of the last period - the approval of the Brazilian Civil Rights Framework for the Internet ('Marco Civil da Internet'), Law 12.965/2014. Marco Civil ensures fundamental rights to Internet users, such as privacy and freedom of expression and is in line with internationally accepted orientations and principles for Internet governance.

These Bills were introduced in the Chamber of Deputies aimed to change Marco Civil and are supported by powerful private and economic interests and are motivated by parliamentarians self-interest to restrain criticism from citizens and social movements violating the right to freedom of expression in Internet.

Bill n°215/2015 - presented by Brazilian representative Hildo Rocha (PMDB), and its attachments - Bill n°1547/2015 authored by Expedito Netto, and Bill n°1589/2015 by Soraya Santos - seeks to include harsh punishments into articles n°48 and n°141 of Brazil's Criminal Code in order to inhibit crimes committed through social media. Furthermore, the Bill n°215/2015 changes provisions of Marco Civil, modifying articles 10, 13, 15, 19 and adding article 21-A. These changes grant access of “public authorities” to Internet users data without judicial order, and obliges application providers to remove online content after a simple allegation of crime against honor. This will not only affect freedom of expression but also impose technical and economic constraints on internet providers deeply compromising the principle of non-liability of the network.

In the last version of the Bill, the proposal includes the right to be forgotten and the need to keep record of citizens registration data that will be collected by Internet Service Providers and Internet Application Providers, imposing the obligation to retain information such as full address, phone and social security number, which can be surrendered, without judicial order, to any entity who has the legal authority to make such a request.

The Bill 215/2015 puts at risk the necessary balance between protecting the right to privacy and the criminal prosecution as well as threatens democracy itself by allowing such abuses.

Proposals presented in the Bill have already been rejected during the discussions on Marco Civil. It is worth mentioning that the current legal provisions in Marco Civil were the result of a broad social debate and an intense political negotiation, which makes it one of the most democratic laws that has ever been voted in the recent history of Brazil’s National Congress.

We believe that any change in Marco Civil should be preceded by a qualified discussion, supported by technical, political and social considerations. Mostly, we believe that changing the law requires an intense democratic participation from all society sectors similar to the process from which it was originated, providing public consultation mechanisms, so that interests from the whole society can be represented in important topics such as personal data protection and freedom of expression on the Internet.

We know that a very significant part of right wing political parties (specially PMDB) frontally opposed Marco Civil approval back in 2014, representing conservative and powerful economic interests. However, such interests can not now override the safeguards established by the democratic legislative process and the public interest so overly advocated in Marco Civil's debate.

The initiative of the above mentioned parliamentarians undermines the Rule of Law principles, in that it reveals itself as retaliation for established rights, already guaranteed even before Marco Civil was approved, with the clear objective to reverse these victory of Brazilian society in Congress.

Therefore, all organizations and activists that are part of the coalition pro Internet Rights Law repudiate the artful maneuver and anti-democratic action carried on by some political parties, trying to implement arbitrary vigilantism and censorship, putting in danger the Rule of Law. We require parliamentarians to wait for the democratic process already established by the Executive to regulate some parts of Marco Civil through a decree and the discussion on a Bill of Personal Data Protection and Privacy which will address the same issues, however, with broader participation.

Organizations or collectives that support this letter

  • Actantes
  • Advogados Ativistas
  • Artigo 19
  • ASL Associação Softwarelivre.org
  • Associação dos Blogueiros e Ativistas do Paraná - ParanáBlogs
  • Baixa Cultura (baixacultura.org)
  • Centro de Estudos de Mídia Alternativa Barão de Itararé
  • Centro de Estudos de Mídia Alternativa Baronesa de Itararé (Núcleo do Barão de Itararé no Paraná)
  • Cibercult UFRJ
  • Ciranda Internacional da Comunicação Compartilhada
  • Coletivo Digital
  • Coletivo Locomotiva Cultural
  • Coletivo Pedra no Sapato
  • Coletivo Soylocoporti
  • Coding Rights
  • FLISOL Brasil - Festival Latino-americano de Instalação de Software Livre
  • Fora do Eixo
  • Fórum Nacional pela Democratização da Comunicação (FNDC)
  • FotoLivre.org
  • Fundação Blogoosfero
  • Instituto Bem Estar Brasil
  • Instituto Beta Para Internet e Democracia (IBIDEM)
  • Instituto Brasileiro de Defesa do Consumidor (IDEC)
  • Instituto Brasileiro de Políticas Digitais - Mutirão
  • Intervozes – Coletivo Brasil de Comunicação Social
  • Labhacker
  • Laboratório de estudos sobre Internet e Cultura (LABIC/UFES)
  • Mídia Ninja
  • Movimento Mega
  • Open Knowledge Brasil
  • PROTESTE - Associação de Consumidores
  • Redelivre
  • Tie-Brasil
  • Transparência Hacker
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