“In order to guarantee democracy and freedom on the internet, the government of Brazil recently approved a set of laws that will shape the future of access to data in the country and, ultimately, in the world: the Civil Rights Framework for the Internet.
The initiative, popularly known as “Marco Civil”, sets principles, rights and obligations for the use of the Internet in all brazilian national territory.
With data protection and privacy becoming a major issue for governments, Brazil has now taken the lead on the topic. According to the Marco Civil, internet is a neutral domain where private corporations, that provide access, have no control over information flow. The legislation also sets by law that all internet providers must store user’s data, which can be then accessed over a judicial decision. Although regarded as a potential risk for citizens, data storage was an old demand from security institutions, that are now enabled to carry long investigations using data access information. The legislation terms also states that it is illegal for companies to use personal information to third parties for commercial means.
With popular demand for internet regulation increasing over the past years, recent allegations of espionage between countries, as well as the Edward Snowden affair, speeded up the approval process of the Marco in Brazilian senate. The fact that President Dilma Roussef defended the Internet Constitution on the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, on 24 September 2013, was a clear statement that privacy is an issue that all countries are going to have to address in the short term.
The elaboration itself the Framework was an example of how a collaborative and democratic process can bring prolific outcomes for society. The process of defining the terms faced many changes and adaptations along its course to final approval. Given the technicality of the project, the Marco Civil was also analyzed by several commissions, composed from different sectors of society, such as Science, Technology, Environment and Innovation. Through a variety of participation portals and online channels, civil society representatives and common internet users expressed their opinions and participated on the process of discussing the Marco Civil to find the best framework to benefit the nation.
It is important to stress that the efforts towards data protection and information freedom is a continuing process, that needs constant upgrades and adaptations, to renovate itself according to the citizen’s needs.
The World Wide Web creator, Tim Berners-Lee, described Brazil as a new world leader in democracy and social progress, in an era where citizen’s rights must be protected by specific laws worldwide. The Framework cannot be regarded as a separate body from the constitution, but a complementary set of measures to reinforce existing ones.
The Marco Civil is as a successful example of data access regulation as a tool to promote social development. Its outcome is the balance of rights and obligations of individuals, private organizations and the government on the internet. It also prevents private organizations on making distinctions of data traffic based on subscription plans, stopping companies from prioritizing web speed and access based on economic interests. This allows regular users to have equal data opportunity across the web, defining access by the necessity of citizens and public demand, not only according the commercial interest of private corporations.
Given the increasing importance of internet on society, this is potentially a model to be exported to different nations, specially in emerging economies and developing democracies. This makes the Marco Civil a major advance in democracy. The importance of the model can be specially regarded in nations where information can play a crucial role on the development and civil liberty rights. Social media activities and collaborative processes are now a key element on the shaping of societies and the new world.
The first steps in a new age of governance have been taken. While the Marco Civil’s main objective is to regulate data access, many other benefits spring up along process. One thing is for sure: topics such as pluralism and diversity, openness and collaboration, free competition and consumer protection are now consolidated on the general public agenda, and they came to stay.
Ultimately, the Marco Civil guarantees basic human rights, such as privacy, and citizenship, establishing diversity preservation as a fundamental premise on this new public domain. On a national perspective, the Marco Civil Assure Brazil’s sovereignty for information technology and democratic governance. On the global level, however, the benefits go far beyond. ” – Rodolpho Zannin Feijó – London, United Kingdom