The Marco Civil da Internet, the so-called Internet Constitution of Brazil, is a draft bill introduced in the Brazilian Congress aimed to set principles, rights and duties for Internet users and providers. Brazil is currently the fourth country in the world for Internet use (more then 75 million Brazilians are connected to the Internet) and therefore the Marco Civil is expected to have a great impact for Internet users and service providers.
Postponed by the Congress
The bill has been originally conceived in 2009 in a collaborative way through a web blog where academics and citizens where invited to propose their amendments. The bill has then been presented by the government to the Congress for discussion and approval. In September 2013, following the revelation of the espionage activities on the presidential communications by the US National Security Agency, the President Dilma Rousseff declared that the approval of the draft bill by the Congress was a priority. The Congress however postponed the vote on the Marco Civil several times, notwithstanding the delay of 45 days for approval following the urgency declaration by Ms. Rousseff, and no definitive discussion and voting session has been scheduled so far.
The Marco Civil sets forth principles related to the use of and access to the Internet in Brazil such as privacy and data protection rights, network neutrality, liability of Internet users and providers and the defense of the participative nature of the Internet. In particular the Internet must be conceived and used as a way to help social inclusion and democracy.
Another important principle relates to the absolute protection of the confidentiality of communications through the Internet. Internet users are protected also as regards the access to the Internet that can be suspended by the Internet provider only in case of non-payment of the bill by the user.
A substantial part of the Marco Civil is devoted to data protection - we remind that Brazil still does not have a general data protection act. Personal data, including Internet connection data and information about access to applications on the Internet, cannot be communicated to third parties without the free, express and informed consent of the data subject or in the cases set according to the law. All data processing activities can be performed by the Internet providers with the consent of the data subject who shall receive clear information about the purposes and modalities of the processing. Internet users have the right to have their personal data deleted at the end of the contractual relation with the provider of the Internet application - a similar provision is included in the proposed EU Data Protection Regulation.
The strong liberal character of the Marco Civil is reflected in the provision stating that Internet providers cannot block, monitor, filter or analyze the content of the data transmitted. This provision is aimed to avoid any form of censorship and to assure the full application of the principle of network neutrality.
Furthermore Internet providers are not liable for damages arising from the content created by third parties, except when the providers do not remove the infringing, defamatory, illegal etc. content following a judicial order.
We expect that more developments will finally happen in 2014 and that the Marco Civil will be finally approved by the Congress.