Hands Off the Marco Civil!
In her address to the UN General Assembly this week, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff called for global respect for net neutrality and human rights online. She announced plans for Brazil to propose an international framework governing internet use and communications using five guiding principles: free speech, transparent multilateral governance, universality and non-discrimination, cultural diversity without imposing values, and network neutrality.
She has also issued an order for the Brazilian Congress to vote on groundbreaking legislation known as the Marco Civil within the next month. The bill is unprecedented -- a people's framework for the internet developed through more than a year of consultations with Brazilians from around the country. It represents one of the most progressive frameworks for internet policy ever drafted, securing the right to open and high-speed access, stricter privacy standards to fight surveillance, network neutrality, guarantees for freedom of expression online, and much more.
This is a watershed moment for digital rights legislation. But the Marco Civil’s net neutrality provisions are under attack by an extremely powerful telco industry that wants to protect its business models that rely on data discrimination, threaten freedom of expression, and limit open access. Telcos are negotiating with politicians to eliminate key net neutrality provisions in exchange for their support of the bill.
Not only are the Marco Civil’s net neutrality protections crucial to upholding its framework of digital rights protections, but they are also an opportunity for Brazil to set an important international precedent. Only a handful of countries have enacted legislation upholding net neutrality, and Brazil’s leadership in this area could prove to be crucial.
There are also proposed amendments to the bill that would require large internet companies to mirror and store their Brazilian users’ data within the country. While it’s certainly time to take big steps to establish strong protections for users’ data, data mirroring is an ineffective, dangerous, and controversial way of doing so. Both Brazilians and the global internet would be better served if the Marco Civil is left untainted by hasty new provisions.
Join us in calling on members of the National Congress of Brazil to set a strong example for the rest of the international community. Tell them to protect the integrity of the Marco Civil by continuing to speak out against harmful amendments and reserving provisions on data protection for future debates.