The bill additionally contains obvious security measures that I think about Trojan horses as a result of they’d enable the federal government to surveil customers. For instance, it stipulates that social-media platforms should hold data of messages which might be forwarded by at the very least 5 customers to greater than 1,000 customers inside 15 days. The problem right here is that the info of any person who forwards such a message will probably be saved, even when that person didn’t intend to misinform.
Another problem is that the bill dangers turning Brazil into an island with its personal guidelines that “freeze” know-how. For instance, it creates a normal primarily based on WhatsApp for telephone functions, forcing different builders to adapt to WhatsApp’s mannequin for limiting how messages could also be forwarded or what number of individuals can be a part of teams.
Perhaps the worst factor in regards to the bill, although, is that it reverses one of many biggest advances led to by the Marco Civil. According to that regulation, platforms aren’t liable for content material posted by customers and should take away such content material provided that a court docket order specifies what crime or unlawful act was dedicated. In distinction, the brand new bill makes social platforms liable for all the pieces revealed on them. This will make them aggressively take away content material which may displease the federal government, and they’re going to police customers for improper posts.
I do suppose firms like YouTube, Facebook (and WhatsApp), and Twitter ought to acknowledge their accountability for materials revealed on their platforms and undertake clearer guidelines towards disinformation. However, this bill wouldn’t cease the unfold of disinformation. Instead, it might give tech firms a robust incentive to restrict Brazilians’ freedom of speech at a time of political unrest.
Various organizations have already tried to cut back the scope of the brand new regulation, and a few worrying provisions, although none talked about right here, have been eliminated. But the revised bill remains to be deeply problematic.
A greater strategy can be to research those that finance fake-news networks and maintain them accountable, utilizing laws that already exists. Social-networking platforms also needs to change their metrics and design their algorithms to cease rewarding the unfold of fringe content material and to flag what’s clearly false.
No matter what number of faux accounts and bots there are, although, faux information tends to unfold by way of actual folks, as when Donald Trump falsely claimed on Facebook that youngsters are “almost immune” to covid-19, or when Bolsonaro touts the scientifically unproven advantages of chloroquine. That’s why web literacy is key to any well-informed society. Teaching folks determine what is fake, offering instruments to assist customers confirm content material, and providing methods to report false content material ought to all be a part of Brazil’s answer.
Brazil’s Civil Rights Framework was society’s response to comparable makes an attempt by the federal government to censor the web. In many respects, this new bill appears to hunt to not fight faux information however, moderately, to management customers. Restricting civil liberties and freedom of expression will not be an appropriate answer. It’s unattainable to fight this problem in a rush—or by the power of regulation alone.
Raphael Tsavkko Garcia is a Brazilian journalist who holds a PhD in human rights from the University of Deusto in Spain.