Thursday, 21 April 2016

This Tiradentes Day, Take a Stance Against Censorship in Brazil

Brazil, Tiradentes Day, Institute for Technology and Society, SumRando Cybersecurity, VPN, Secure Messenger

Happy Tiradentes Day, Brazil! This year, in honor of Brazilian liberation movement leader Joaquim “the Tooth Puller” Xavier, consider fighting for your freedom in a different way: by signing the Institute for Technology and Society’s petition against Internet censorship in Brazil.

On March 31, Brazil’s parliamentary Inquiry Commission on Cybercrimes proposed a series of amendments that would undermine the freedom of expression, net neutrality and data protection currently guaranteed under Marco Civil da Internet, Brazil’s Internet Bill of Rights.

By April 1, the participants of RightsCon Silicon Valley 2016 had already drafted a list of grievances against the proposed legislation:

  • It allows law enforcement agencies to access IP addresses without a court order.  
  • Internet service providers (ISPs) will be obliged to remove content considered “harmful to personal honor” upon notification within 48 hours, under the penalty of criminal and civil liability. 
  • ­Contrary to all international human rights guidelines, Internet service providers (ISPs) will be obliged to actively monitor user content in order to impede future uploads of the same material that was removed for being “harmful to personal honor,” and also everything potentially related to it.
  • ­It broadens the definition of what constitutes the crime of invasion of electronic devices to cases in which there is no proven harm and regardless of the intent. It possibly criminalizes practices such as whistleblowing or circumventing technical protection measures (TPMs) that hamper personal use of content protected by copyright.
  • ­It creates a blank check for courts to block the use of application and services on the infrastructure level of the Internet, which creates negative consequences for freedom of expression. In addition to potentially negatively affecting the freedom of particular companies and/or business models, blocking and filtering measures fail to comply with the principle of proportionality, do not respect the principle of network neutrality, and may have a spillover effect on other jurisdictions, causing collateral damage the stability of the internet.

Already, the pushback has been strong enough to convince legislators to rewrite several clauses in the initial proposal, but privacy advocates argue that the adjustments are simply not enough. For example, the content removal clause has been modified to remove the 48-hour time limit and also so that only content already established as illegal is required to be removed.

For groups such as Oficina Antivigilancia, such change is an improvement, but also carries its own set of concerns: “It worries us the way in which this obligation will be implemented, mainly when it comes to content in which the public intentionally wants to subvert the blockade, once sophisticated techniques (and others not so much, like flipping/mirroring the image or accelerating the reproduction of videos) could be very hard to technically detect, especially considering the volume of new posts in the Internet’s main platforms like Youtube, Facebook and Twitter.”

For more information, a complete overview of changes made can be found on Oficina Antivigilancia’s website; the revised version of the legislation is available as well. Be sure to do your part and sign the petition. Tiradentes would thank you.

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