The three platforms released announcements (read more below) contrary to the MP published on Monday (6) in the “Official Gazette” (DOU). The text alters the Marco Civil da Internet, a law that regulates the use of the network in Brazil.
Experts heard by G1 also considered that the text is problematic and can be considered unconstitutional.
Em 29 de março de 2020, o Twitter apagou publicações Bolsonaro por violarem regras sobre Covid. A day later, Facebook and Instagram removed a video of the president in which he provoked crowds in Brasília and returned to take a stand against social isolation.
Back in April of last year, videos of the president were deleted from YouTube after the platform updated its terms to ban content that recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin in the treatment of Covid-19 – these drugs are proven to be ineffective against the disease.
See below what Facebook, Google and Twitter said about the MP:
Facebook said MP limits abuse containment
“This provisional measure significantly limits the ability to contain abuses on our platforms, which is fundamental to offering people a safe space for expression and online connection. Facebook agrees with the statement of several experts and lawyers, who claim that the proposal violates constitutional rights and guarantees.”
Google cites risks people take
“We emphasize that our community policies are the result of a collaborative process with technical experts, civil society and academia. These guidelines exist so that we can guarantee a good user experience and preserve the diversity of voices and ideas that are characteristic of the platform.”
“We believe that the freedom to apply and update rules is essential for YouTube to collaborate in building the free and open internet that transforms the lives of millions of Brazilians every day. We will continue to work to demonstrate the transparency and importance of our guidelines , and the risks people take when we can’t apply them.”
Twitter defends the Marco Civil da Internet
“The Marco Civil da Internet was the result of a broad and democratic process of discussion with civil society, in which companies, academia, users and public bodies were able to participate. This allowed the drafting of a law considered to be at the forefront of protection of users’ rights, preserving innovation and free competition. The proposition of this Provisional Measure, which brings changes to the Marco Civil, contradicts everything that this process was and what was built with it.”
The text establishes “rights and guarantees” for users of social networks and defines rules for the moderation of content on social networks. According to the MP, there must be a “just cause” and “motivation” in cases of “cancellation or suspension of features of accounts or profiles maintained by users of social networks”.
Until then, the law said that internet service providers, such as social networks, could not be held responsible for content posted on the networks. The MP can be challenged in court, through action in the Supreme Court (STF).
From a political point of view, the MP can be confirmed or overturned in Congress. It starts to be processed in the Chamber and is later sent to the Senate for evaluation. If it is not voted on within 120 days (60 days extendable for another 60), it expires.
Camarotti’s blog on G1 informed that parliamentarians are already articulating to overthrow or bar MP.
Lawyer comments MP that changes the Civil Law of the Internet
Researchers pointed out that the decree goes against the Marco Civil da Internet, a law that defines rules on the use of the network in Brazil. Francisco Brito Cruz, lawyer and director of InternetLab, a law and technology research center, said that this is a “very problematic measure”.
“Social networks will not be able to act in cases of spam, harassment, bullying or misinformation, as the government does not consider it just cause. Freedom of expression will be jeopardized in an ocean of spam and toxic content,” he said.
Brito Cruz also said that the passage that prohibits platforms from moderating content that, according to the MP, “implies political, ideological, scientific, artistic or religious censorship”, is generic and “aims to make room for judicialization”.
Yasmin Curzi, a researcher at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation’s Center for Technology and Society (FGV-Rio), stated that the MP changes a lot of what is in the Marco Civil, without listening to the Internet Steering Committee in Brazil (CGI), a multi-sectorial structure responsible for coordinate initiatives related to the use and functioning of the internet in the country.
“[Isso] makes the MP illegal – because it directly conflicts with the law already in force; and it is unconstitutional because it is not up to the executive to promote this type of regulation via MP“, said the researcher.
Yasmin also said that the text could be overturned by the Supreme Court (STF) and that this could generate another point of tension between Bolsonaro supporters and the court.
Ivar Hartmann, a specialist in Digital Law and an associate professor at Insper, also stated that the MP is unconstitutional.
“From a formal procedural point of view, it is unconstitutional because this matter could not be an MP. There is no new fact, there is nothing urgent to justify the use of MP. But I think it’s unlikely that the STF, for example, will take down because of this“.
“There is incompatibility with the Constitution for establishing a series of rules that directly affect the exercise of freedom of expression in the country, including creating certain highly subjective decisions to be taken by social networks on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
The professor says that the text says that an administrative authority will decide whether the decisions of social networks comply with the MP. “That is, the Executive Branch itself will say whether that removal of content that the social network did was legal or illegal“he says.
“This in itself is already a clear and serious unconstitutionality, because it puts in the hands of the executive power to determine the limits. This would give the Executive Power enormous power to determine the limits of freedom of expression for Brazilians and Brazilian women,” he added.
Attorney Bruna Santos, a member of the Coalizão Direitos na Rede, which brings together activists and academics, pointed out an interference by the MP in the private sector.
“It seems to me to be unconstitutional given that it acts on the free initiative and economic freedom of these companies to determine the business model and how they operate. This seems to me to be a large and relevant interference and one that deserves some attention at this time,” he said.
The Secretariat of Communication of the Presidency of the Republic (Secom) published on its social network that the measure aims at “greater clarity regarding ‘policies, procedures, measures and instruments’ used by social network providers to cancel or suspend content and accounts”.
The publication also says that the intention of the measure is also to combat “the arbitrary and unreasonable removal of accounts, profiles and content by providers”.
Justice and social media actions
Recently, the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) ordered the suspension of payments to content producers from 14 channels investigated for spreading false information about the Brazilian elections.
Among the channels and pages included in the decision are some of the main support networks for Bolsonaro (without a party), such as the Terça Livre channel, the Jornal da Cidade Online and the Oswaldo Eustáquio channel, a supporter who was arrested in the investigation into undemocratic acts. Eustace’s social networks were blocked on Monday.
Bolsonaro criticized the TSE minister’s decision in lives and interviews, saying that the decision was partial for withdrawing the transfer of money from right-wing pages that, according to the president, do not believe that electronic voting is fully trustworthy.