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 text, it is necessary to have 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.
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.
Lawyer comments MP that changes the Civil Law of the Internet
Contrary to the Civil Framework
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”.
In a note sent to G1, Facebook claims that the MP “significantly limits the ability to contain abuses on platforms.”
“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”.
Twitter also stated in a note that 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 could participate” and that the MP ” it goes against everything that this process was and what it was built with”.
“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.”
Google says it analyzes the possible impacts of the MP:
“We are analyzing the possible impacts of Provisional Measure No. 1,068/2021 on platforms such as YouTube. 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 with the construction of 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 run when we cannot apply them.”
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, Jornal da Cidade Online and the channel of Oswaldo Eustáquio, a supporter who was arrested in the investigation into the acts undemocratic. 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.
In April, 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 for the treatment or prevention of Covid-19 – drugs that have no medical proof for the disease.
- YouTube takes down 4 more videos where Bolsonaro talks about ineffective drugs against Covid, but doesn’t suspend the channel
- YouTube will remove videos that recommend chloroquine or ivermectin to treat Covid-19
Outras redes sociais como Facebook, Instagram e Twitter também já removeram posts de Bolsonaro por desinformação.