We, as representatives of civil society organizations from all over the world present at the 11th Internet Governance Forum in Guadalajara, Mexico, come together to voice our concern about policy changes related to access, governance and use of the Internet that have been taking place in Brazil this year.
Since the first World Summit on the Information Society, in 2003, Brazilian digital rights advocates have been active participants on the Internet Governance debate, pushing for more participation and the protection of human rights in the digital environment. Brazil is the only country that hosted two editions of the IGF (2007, 2015), showing its support to the open and multistakeholder discussion. It is regrettable that, in the 2016 IGF, Brazilian government participation is rather restricted. The country that has been an example is now at risk of weakening its most valuable institutions dedicated to Internet Governance: the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee (CGI.br) and the groundbreaking legislation passed in 2014, the “Marco Civil da Internet”, or MCI.
The MCI was a result of a long and democratic participatory process that had as its goal the creation of fundamental rights for the use of the Internet. The Law focused on the democratization of Internet access, net neutrality, freedom of expression, protection of personal data and privacy. It was based on the Decalogue Principles enacted by CGI.br in 2009, in a context of multistakeholder governance.
Due to recent political changes in the country, the open Internet as we know it is now at risk. The current government has started in a questionable power transition and has been refractory to democratic debate, supporting a conservative body of Congress representatives that since is working against what MCI ensures in terms of protection of fundamental rights on the internet. Now, the Congress is about to pass a law that will represent a serious backlash in telecommunications policies that would result in the loss of sovereignty by the State over telecommunications networks, compromising the purpose set by MCI of universal access and digital inclusion.
In addition, the Federal Government has announced that it will not develop policies for broadband Internet access and that “the market should promote expansion on its own”. This new governance paradigm goes against the country’s current legal and regulatory framework, which recognizes the key role of the State in achieving universalization and democratization of access and knowledge.
In this context, the government, together with National Telecommunications Agency, has been permissive regarding commercial discriminatory practices, such as allowing for new plans with data caps to be offered, as well as anticompetitive deals between large ISPs and large online platforms.
Since 2015, over two hundred bills proposing changes to the MCI have been presented. Many of them weaken fundamental principles and rights such as net neutrality, non-liability for Internet providers, personal data protection, privacy and freedom of expression. Pushing these proposed amendments to the law are lobbyists for conservative and authoritarian political forces as well as industries with private interests that go against the public ones.
Now, in 2016, we have witnessed political actions by the Executive branch that threaten multistakeholder governance, more specifically the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee (CGI). Government representatives have openly declared that they intend to review the strength of civil society representativeness and participation in the committee.
We have also seen judicial decisions that determine the takedown of applications such as WhatsApp, when the company is unable to provide data and content about investigated persons by the police or investigation authorities due to the use of cryptography. Several lawsuits related to such takedowns are now pending before the Brazilian Supreme Court.
We are aware that the award-winning Brazilian coalition called “Direitos na Rede” is fighting all these hard won policy, legal and regulatory and changes that threaten civil rights. We wish to make the world aware of these backlashes and declare our support to the Direitos na Rede coalition.
We also urge the Brazilian Government to take immediate measures against these attempts to limit Internet rights and principles. We urge the Brazilian Government to foster instead, a vibrant Internet ecosystem, where digital inclusion, human rights and democratic governance are among its highest priorities.
Guadalajara, December 5th 2016.
Todo o conteúdo da Coalizão Direitos na Rede está licenciado com uma Licença Creative Commons - Atribuição-NãoComercial 4.0 Internacional.
Baseado no trabalho disponível em https://direitosnarede.org.br.
Podem estar disponíveis autorizações adicionais às concedidas no âmbito desta licença em https://direitosnarede.org.br.