January 28 is the date set by the Brazilian Ministry of Justice to launch public consultations for two crucial pieces of legislation: the decree that will regulate the “Marco Civil da Internet” (or the “Brazilian Civil Rights Framework for the Internet”, a law enacted in 2014 that establishes a number of basic rights for internet users in Brazil) and the draft of the Data Protection Act. The debate over these two pieces of legislation will take place in an online platform set by the government to collect comments and suggestions – all stakeholders are invited to make contributions and collaborate.
It will be a participatory and collaborative process, inspired by the successful experience with the “Marco Civil da Internet”, which received over 800 submissions before being discussed in Congress.
Why is the regulation of the “Marco Civil da Internet” so important?
Also known as the “Brazilian Internet Constitution”, the “Marco Civil” has a number of open and broad provisions, many of which are depending on further regulation to be better implemented. That is why the Executive Branch must pass a decree that will provide more specific provisions on a range of topics that were broadly addressed in the law. In order to do so, the Brazilian Ministry of Justice decided to open this public consultation.
It is the first time in Brazil that a government decree will be preceded by a public consultation. And it is for a good reason: the public debate that will begin on January 28th will have a major impact on issues such as privacy, freedom of expression and universal access to the Internet.
Why is the draft of the Data Protection Act so important?
Simultaneously to the public consultation for regulation of “Marco Civil”, the Brazilian Ministry of Justice will also launch another online platform to receive contributions for the preliminary draft of the Data Protection Act (after the draft is concluded, it will be sent over for congressional discussion).
Since the revelations of former official of the US National Security Agency, Edward Snowden, in 2013, the protection of personal data has become a priority issue for the Brazilian government. Although the “Marco Civil” has a few provisions dealing with privacy, it does not establish a baseline data protection law.
The implications of not having a data protection law are increasingly evident, since much of the Internet users’ experience rely on “free” services, whose business models capitalize on the collection and processing of personal data. More than one hundred countries around the world have already enacted specific data protection legislation.
How will InternetLab participate in this process?
Both public consultations (regulation of “Marco Civil” and draft of the Data Protection Act) are intended to collect contributions in a democratic and participatory manner, in order to build consensus around sensitive topics and confront arguments that will be brought by different stakeholders. InternetLab believes that effective and active participation of citizens is essential, and that such participation must be very well informed.
Given the role that academia should play in a public policy debate like this, InternetLab is launching a new project: “InternetLab Reports: Public Consultations”. Over the next weeks, while the public consultations are open, we will release, every Friday, a newsletter summarizing the main contributions and discussions that took place in the platforms and on the auxiliary channels used by the Brazilian Ministry of Justice (Twitter and Facebook). We will also use these newsletters to invite specialists and academics to comment on controversial topics that might have come up during the week.
We want to give visibility to this important moment which is defining the future of the Internet in Brazil. And we also want to do this by encouraging participation and engaging other stakeholders in the discussion through the dissemination of accurate, well organized and accessible information about what is happening on the public consultations.
Participation of InternetLab researchers in the Public Consultations
In keeping with its mission of fostering public debate on law and technology, InternetLab encourages all members of your team (directors, researchers and interns) to actively participate in the public consultations, expressing their views and sharing their personal takes on these issues. This participation will be free and individual, and will not necessarily reflect InternetLab’s institutional views.
Let the debates begin!