The Brazilian government is proposing changes in domestic internet governance that would endanger the participation of civil society and the multistakeholder model.
Crucial changes in policy without due consultation
Brazil’s government has opened the door to changes in policy that could weaken the participation of civil society in internet governance in Brazil. On August 8th, the government published a call for comments that would allow important changes in the national Internet Governance Steering Committee (“CGI.br”), without even first consulting the committee itself. This has taken the Brazilian internet community by surprise.
What’s at stake?
The voice of civil society is the future of the internet in Brazil. The existence of the CGI.br and the strong participation of civil society on the committee were essential for the creation, implementation, and improvement of the groundbreaking Marco Civil legislation.
Under the Marco Civil, the committee is responsible for setting the guidelines on internet issues. It is a multistakeholder body with strong civil society participation, and it has been crucial for the defense of user privacy and Net Neutrality.
The federal government of Brazil has published a call for comments in the official gazette and has invited interested parties to issue comments on the composition, election process, and attributions of the Internet Governance Steering Committee (CGI.br). This may be an attempt to make changes to the committee that would muzzle civil society and thereby harm users’ fundamental rights.
This move by the Temer administration is only the latest action to threaten the existence and functioning of the CGI.br. In 2016, Maximiliano Martinhão, the Telecommunication Secretary for the Ministry of Communications, was named coordinator of the CGI.br, and he has been trying to tear the committee apart ever since. Last December, a group of international civil society organizations published a manifesto to denounce the government’s attempts to weaken the institution. Earlier this year, the government froze the formal nomination of recently elected civil society members to the committee for the first half of the year. These members were confirmed in their positions only after public outcry and response by multiple organizations.
The CGI.br is fundamental for the future of the Brazilian internet. Let’s stay vigilant!
The CGI.br has done good work in defense of digital rights, and has been widely praised as a model institution and an inspiration for multistakeholder governance in the world.
We must stay alert for the proposals that may arise from this call for comments. In particular, we must pay attention to ideas that may modify the composition, election mechanisms, and mandate of the CGI.br in negative ways.
We call on the Brazilian government and the person in charge of the government strategy, Science and Technology Minister Gilberto Kassab, to protect true open and participatory multistakeholder governance.
Here’s how you can join us in taking action:
- Tweet to Minister @GilbertoKassab to protect our rights and uphold the integrity of the CGI.br.
- Read the open letter by the Brazilian Coalition for Rights on the Network, the digital rights collective that Access Now identified as a “hero” for its work to protect user privacy.
- Share this post on social media, and encourage your friends and colleagues to do the same.
- Follow the Brazilian Coalition for Rights on the Network on Twitter, and tune in to the conversation using the hashtag #GolpeNoCGI.
We’ll keep you posted as the issue develops.