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Brazil’s groundbreaking Internet Civil Rights Bill needs support!

April 17th, 2013

Here at Mozilla, we believe the Internet is a global public resource that must remain open and accessible. We believe in the importance of balancing the commercial goals of the Internet against those for the public benefit. Brazil’s Internet Bill of Rights, the Marco Civil da Internet, seeks to maintain this balance by guaranteeing basic rights for Internet users.  We support this kind of effort to create a comprehensive, pro-Internet policy framework. If adopted, it could well serve as a reference model for future legislation.

The legislation is groundbreaking in its intent. It secures important rights to Internet users through a civil framework rather than a criminal code. These rights include the right to privacy, freedom of speech, and access to information. It defends communications over the Internet, protects the sanctity of the Internet connection itself, requires comprehensive information in service contracts (particularly with respect to the protection of personal data), and limits third party access to connection logs and Internet applications.

The Marco Civil has been percolating since 2009. Despite a high level of community engagement (a collaboration of over eight hundred contributors), the legislation stagnated when commercial interests got involved. Important components of the legislation, such as the safe harbor provision regarding copyright infringement, have already been excluded.  We don’t want to see the legislation further diluted.

The Marco Civil mandates net neutrality while outlawing the tracking of consumers through deep packet inspection (DPI). These are two hot-button provisos opposed by certain commercial entities. The prohibition against DPI protects privacy and choice by outlawing its use to track unaware Internet users. The mandate of net neutrality contains very limited exceptions – and particularly prohibits businesses from charging for different types of services depending on what is contained in a data packet.

The drafters of the Marco Civil and other interested parties are hosting a seminar in Brasilia on April 17. This Internet Bill of Rights sets valuable precedent for not only global net neutrality and privacy principles, but for the protection of intellectual property rights everywhere.

For more on the Marco Civil, see here and here.