Brazil upholds internet freedom

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Without a single objection, Brazil’s upper legislative body ratified the so-called Internet Bill of Rights that ensures equal access to the Web and safeguards the privacy of Brazilians in light of the US espionage programme.

President Dilma Rousseff is expected to approve the bill and then showcase it at a global internet conference on April 23. Interestingly, she was targeted by the US spying programme based on documents disclosed by Edward Snowden, a former analyst at the National Security Agency (NSA).

Dubbed as Brazil’s “Internet Constitution”, the bill has been praised by experts for guaranteeing that the internet remains as an open and decentralised platform of information while balancing the duties and right of users, states and companies. Notable proponents include British physicist Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web.

In order to pass the bill, Rousseff’s administration had to axe a controversial provision that would have required multinational internet firms to store information about Brazilian users in local data centres.

In lieu of such a provision, it states that tech giants such as Facebook and Google are subject to the country’s laws and courts if there are privacy violations, even if the data is placed on overseas servers.

The government also upheld a stipulation on net neutrality that was severely opposed by telecommunication firms on the grounds that it prevents them from charging heftier prices for access to high-bandwidth content like voice services and video streaming.

Furthermore, the bill says that internet service providers are not liable for content uploaded by users. However, they are compelled to remove libellous or offensive material if there is a valid court order.


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