The much applauded Brazilian legislative project for an Internet Bill of Rights is about to enter its decisive phase in the House of Representatives. The Marco Civil da Internet had it ups and downs. A devastating cyber-crime bill introduced by senator Eduardo Azeredo had triggered a wave of protests in 2009. This in turn, led to an innovative, broad, participatory process of drafting a counter-bill guaranteeing fundamental rights on the Internet that was conducted by the Ministry of Justice in partnership with the Center for Technology and Society of the Fundação Getulio Vargas Law School in Rio de Janeiro. The first round of public consultations at the end of 2009 served to identify issues to be dealt with. The draft bill based on the more than 800 contributions was published for public consultation in spring 2010. The administration of President Dilma Rousseff approved the bill and sent it to Congress in August 2011. There it has been postponed and watered down eversince. Especially the net neutrality rules met with resistance by the powerful telcos. Meanwhile, the Lei Azeredo was passed in April 2013.
It took Edward Snowden’s leaks to bring the Marco Civil draft back on track. “In addition to the re-installment of old guarantees aspired for by civil society organisations, the post-Snowden Marco Civil also embodies the reaction of Brazil’s government to the NSA mass surveillance,” writes Monika Ermert on Intellectual Property Watch. She also presents an English language translation of the current text of the bill, prepared by Carolina Rossini, Project Director for the Latin America Resource Center at the Internet Governance and Human Rights programme at the New America Foundation’s OTI.
Voting on the Marco Civil is again scheduled for next week. It is feared that it sufferes the same fate as the similarly progressive Brazilian Copyright Bill, the drafting and public deliberations on which had started in 2005 already, that was delayed countless times and is now schedulded to be voted in 2015. But there is still hope that the indignation over practices by the NSA and US corporations will create the political will and momentum to finally approve the Marco Civil.