April 8th, 2010 was an important date for Brazil. That is when a draft bill named “Marco Civil” was launched, aiming to protect fundamental rights online, such as privacy, freedom of expression, net neutrality, open standards, and open governmental data. Looking from the outside, that might seem “natural” for a country like Brazil, which is internationally known for being supprtive to the idea of free culture.
However, that is not the full story. My talk is going to describe the fierce debates and struggles inside Brazil that led to the proposal of the “Marco Civil”. It will show how the Marco Civil became a response to years of national and international pressures for the radicalization and criminalization of the internet. For many years, other draft bills had been proposed (and almost approved), creating crimal conducts such as “unlocking a cell phone”, punishable with up to 4 years in jail. Or yet, simply prohibiting the use of the internet in political campaigns.
I will describe how these radical proposals ended-up mobilizing the Brazilian civil society to claim for more balanced laws. The “Marco Civil” establishes probably one of the first collaborative legislations sponsored by a government. It was through a process of open public participation (available at www.culturadigital.org/marcocivil), divided into 90 days.
For the first 45, an online discussion took place about the principles that should govern the new law. More than 800 substantial comments were received, from private and public interest groups. Based on those comments, the text of the law was then drafted, and opened again (on April 8th, 2010) for public participation. The final text will then be consolidated, and officially introduced to Congress. In short, the “Marco Civil” might be an important inspiration for other countries facing the trends of radicalization and criminalization of internet-related laws. In my talk, I will describe how we got there.