‘Civil rights on the Internet’ The experience of Brazil’s regulation initiative

Organized by Oriol Junqueras (Esquerra Republicana Catalunya), Eva Lichtenberger (Verds-ALE) i FCForum.net (Free/Libre Culture Forum, Barcelona)

European Parliament, Brussels (room A1G1)
October 27th 2010, 12:30

Guest speakers:

  • Guilherme Almedia (Brazilian Ministry of Justice – Coordinator of the Civil Rights Framework Initiative for the Internet).
  • Carlos Affonso Pereira de Souza (Vice-coordinator of the Center for Technology & Society (CTS) at the Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV) Law School in Rio de Janeiro).
  • Pedro Mizukami (Researcher on Intellectual Property)

Promoters speakers:

  • Oriol Junqueras (MEP, Greens-EFA)
  • Eva Lichtenberger (MEP, Greens-EFA)


Brazil is going through a remarkable procedure for the establishment of a civil-rights based legal framework for the use of Internet. The Brazilian Ministry of Justice, in partnership with the Center for Technology and Society from Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV/CTS), has launched a collaborative process to try to underline how Brazilian society is willing to structure rights and responsibilities for using the web, as well as providing access and content.

Officially named Marco Civil (“Civil [Regulatory] Mark”, as opposed to a “Criminal Mark”, and also emphasizing Internet access and usage as relevant civil rights), the draft bill below is to be presented to Brazilian Congress after two periods of public consultation, which have already been concluded, each of them spanning roughly 45 days.

The first period of the process involved a debate on general principles, which then served as reference for the writing of the text of draft bill. These principles were divided into three groups: (1) individual and collective rights (privacy, freedom of speech, and access rights), (2) intermediary parties (net neutrality and civil liability), and (3) governmental directives (openness, infrastructure, and capacity building). The draft text for the bill, reflecting the comments received on its first phase, was then put under consultation for the second period.

Contributions were received through the usage of a simple WordPress site (http://culturadigital.br/marcocivil), hosted by Cultura Digital, an online platform built by the Ministry of Culture, whose goal is to build online communities for the discussion of public policies for the digital environment. During both periods, users were encouraged to comment on the consultation texts paragraph by paragraph directly at the website. Nonetheless, blog posts, twitts, articles published in mainstream media, and institutional and individual contributions sent by email (i.e. not through the official consultation platform) were also taken into consideration. The site continues to be operational, and individual and institutional contributions can still be sent and will be appreciated until the final text of the draft bill is published.

The current draft of the Marco Civil text can be found below. It contains 34 articles divided into 5 chapters, concerning: (1) Preliminary Provisions; (2) User Rights and Guarantees; (3) Provision of Connection Services and Internet Services; (4) The Role of Public Authorities; (5) Final Provisions. The structure of the draft bill stresses a number of user rights and general principles for the regulation of the Internet before dealing with the problems of the preservation of connection logs, secondary liability for ISPs, and net neutrality, and wraps with directives aimed at the public sector.

Predictably, debates involved the relationship between not fundamentally opposing, but sometimes conflicting rights and interests. Freedom of speech, anonymity, privacy and access rights were the topics of heated and often rich debates during both stages of the consultation process. Over 2,000 contributions, from individual users, governmental and non-governmental entities, companies, associations and law firms, were received.

Guest speakers:

Guilherme Almeida

Chief-of-Staff of the Secretariat of Legislative Affairs of the Brazilian Ministry of Justice. Coordinator of the Civil Rights Framework Initiative for the Internet (“Marco Civil da Internet”). Advisor at the Secretariat of Legislative Affairs (2009), Deputy Executive-Chief (2008-2009), Chief-of-Staff (2008) and Advisor (2007-2008) at the Secretariat of Strategic Affairs of the Brazilian Presidency. Member of the career of Specialists in Public Policies and Government Management of the Brazilian Ministry of Planning, Budget and Administration, with special interest in the development of participatory electronic mechanisms to amplify public participation in the drafting and implementation of public policies.

Carlos Affonso Pereira de Souza

Vice-coordinator of the Center for Technology & Society (CTS) at the Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV) Law School in Rio de Janeiro. He holds a Ph.D degree in Civil Law from the University of the State of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ). He is a former councilor at ICANN´s Generic Name Supporting Organization (GNSO), representing the Non-Commercial Users Constituency (2007-2009). He is a member of the executive committee of the Internet Rights and Principles Dynamic Coalition at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). He is a member of the Copyright Law Commission of the National Bar Association (Rio de Janeiro section), as well as a member of the Commission for the Protection of Consumers in e-Commerce, established by the Brazilian Ministry of Justice.

Pedro Mizukami

Graduated from Pontifical University of São Paulo Law School in 2002, where he also earned his master’s degree in Constitutional Law with the dissertation “The Social Function of Intellectual Property – File Sharing, Copyright and the Brazilian Constitution.” His current research interests are copyright law enforcement and the ACTA, piracy and file sharing. Co-author of the book “Access to Knowledge in Brazil” (Bloomsbury, 2010).

Questions to address during the conference:

  • Explain the participatory process through which the Civil Framework was elaborated.
  • How did the participation of citizens improve the proposed Civil Framework for the use of internet?
  • How will net neutrality be guaranteed in the Brazilian regulation?
  • To what extent are Internet services providers going to be liable?
  • How will the right of secrecy of communication be regulated?
  • How is the new internet regulation going to shape the Brazilian internet?