Today and tomorrow the Brazilian House of Representatives and the Senate are expected to vote the so-called “Marco Civil” (Civil Framework), a federal legislation that would guarantee civil rights in the use of the Internet and has been called a “Constitution for the Internet.” Amidst the news on NSA espionage on Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff last summer, debates about the law were given “constitutional urgency,” and many expect the regulation to pass this week.
Professor Martha Fuentes-Bautista’s seminar on “Internet Governance & Information Policy” will skype tomorrow with our NCDG fellow Diego Canabarro who (as featured by Aljazeera) works on these issues in Brazil, to discuss the implications of the new regulation for the country, the region and the world. I know many of you know and appreciate Diego’s work, so I’d like to invite you to join us tomorrow in 304 Gordon at 2:45 pm. for an open discussion on cybersecurity, surveillance and emerging digital rights in Brazil.
Brazil is the first country trying to create a “civil rights” framework to guide policy and regulation of online services. The law would declare the provision of “multimedia communication services” (broadband services) as a “collective interest,” and sanction key principles such as neutrality of network carriage, and privacy of communications. However, a very controversial aspect of the project is the creation of “data storage nodes” to manage Internet traffic in and out of the country. The idea is interpreted by many as a step towards the balkanization of internet worldwide.
In this context, some see Marco Civil as Brazil’s push to govern the Internet, while a number of international digital rights advocacy organizations like Reporters Without Borders, Wikileaks and Article19 have called for the swift adoption of an “uncompromising Marco Civil” in Brazil. Here in the U.S., many digital rights advocates are following the Brazilian case as thousands mobilized in D.C. last weekend calling to stop massive e-surveillance, and increase protections to civil rights online. In the meantime, countries like India have expressed support for Rousseff’s proposal to advance a global ‘bill of rights’ for the governance and use of the Internet, according to five basic principles:
“Freedom of expression, privacy of the individual, and respect for human rights; Open, multilateral and democratic governance; Universality that ensures the social and human development and the construction of inclusive and non-discriminatory societies; Cultural diversity, without the imposition of beliefs, customs and values; and neutrality of the network, guided only by technical and ethical criteria, rendering it inadmissible to restrict it for political, commercial, or religious purposes.”