Long adjustment work

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In June, the Senate approved Bill 2,630 / 2020, the PL for Fake News, which proposes to institute the Brazilian Law on Freedom, Responsibility and Transparency on the Internet. The elaboration of a legal framework for disinformation – which includes fake news and other mistaken messages produced and disseminated in order to cause harm – is a complex issue, which requires special care. An unbalanced law on the matter can cause a lot of damage, unduly affecting fundamental guarantees. Manifestly premature, the text approved by the Senate needs several adjustments – and that is the job that the House now has to do.

Soon after PL 2.630 / 2020 was sent to the Chamber, the President of the House, Rodrigo Maia (DEM-RJ), recognized the need for a mature debate to improve the text approved by the senators. “I am sure that parliamentarians, together with society, will be able to come up with a text that guarantees the freedoms of each citizen, but that organizes the theme so that those who use social networks improperly can have their punishment. I believe that this debate will be important for the Chamber to be able to build a text even better than the one built by the Senate ”, said Maia.

At the moment, the matter is being discussed by a working group in the Chamber, which should present a draft proposal – in fact, a substitute – for the Fake News PL. It is a long work, to be developed calmly. For example, the Marco Civil da Internet (Law 12.965 / 2014), an international reference in the matter, was the result of a debate of years. In any case, it is to be recognized that what has been brought up to date by the deputies, in this initial phase of discussion, presents some effective improvements in relation to the Senate text.

For example, Congressman Orlando Silva (PCdoB-SP) presented a proposal providing for remuneration to journalism companies for content used by Internet search engines. It is an elementary point of justice and respect for the law. Journalistic content is not unowned material, to be used indiscriminately. On the contrary, it is characteristic of a freedom regime to protect journalistic work. In this case, the Chamber’s proposal is to remunerate journalism companies for content indexed on search engines.

Another point discussed in the Chamber’s working group refers to the traceability of messages, which directly involves users’ privacy. The text approved by the Senate provides, in art. 10, the storage for three months of the messages sent in bulk. According to PL 2,630 / 2020, all messages sent by more than five users and that reached more than a thousand recipients are considered. The Chamber’s proposal is to restrict the use of this storage of personal information, making it subject to a previous judicial decision.

Deputies also want to curb more efficiently the operation of accounts and automated profiles, the so-called robots. One idea is to require the identification of both advertisers and those responsible for accounts that drive paid content. Failure to comply with this requirement would give rise to joint and several liability on the part of the platforms for the damage caused by the disseminated material.

In view of the deleterious social and political effects that disinformation produces, it is necessary that Congress draw up an adequate legal framework on the subject. Classical legislation on crimes against honor – libel, slander and defamation – is insufficient to protect the legal assets affected by the disinformation currently spread in the virtual world. However, the new legal framework must combat new forms of abuse, while always respecting fundamental freedoms and guarantees. For example, it is essential to preserve the principles established by the Legislative itself with the Marco Civil da Internet. There is no deadline to approve the Fake News PL. The important thing is that the new law does respect the neutrality of the network, the privacy of users and freedom of expression.

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