Brazil’s disinformation bill is a threat to freedom of expression and privacy online

Brazil, 29 June 2020

Disinformation and misinformation have a significant negative impact on democracy, freedom of expression, journalism and civic space – but so do any ill-suited attempts to regulate these phenomena. The draft bill on disinformation that may be voted through in Brazil this Thursday, 25 June poses clear threats in this regard.

The proposal, hastily introduced last April, has been subject to a number of modifications and the final text to be reviewed by Congress is uncertain. As APC members in the region and other regional and global civil society organisations highlight, lack of transparency adds up to a process marked by little multistakeholder participation and poorly drafted provisions that may amount to serious long-term restrictions to freedom of expression and privacy.

If approved, this piece of legislation will turn into a worrisome precedent for many other countries currently considering regulations to fight disinformation. This is a complex issue that cannot be fast-tracked with little consideration to its significant impact on human rights and procedural safeguards. 

Among the critical aspects identified by Brazilian groups, we highlight:

  • Repeated reference to "interpersonal communication systems”, which are not clearly defined in the text.

  • Mass traceability of messages in messaging apps and “communication systems” in ways that can break privacy-preserving end-to-end encryption.

  • Collection of ID and mobile phone numbers for the creation of social media and “interpersonal communication systems” accounts.

  • Possible full suspension of internet applications that fail to comply with the bill’s provisions.

Any restrictions on the right to freedom of expression should be subject to a strict test of legality, necessity and proportionality. The Brazilian so-called “Fake News Bill” falls short of international standards in this regard and should not be adopted without much further debate and public contributions.

More information
  • Read the full statement.

  • Follow our updates on @APCNews and help us amplify the message through the #plfakenews and #naovotaplfakenews hashtags on Twitter. You can also follow @cdr_br to get updates from the ground.

  • Access our press section to stay updated on pressing news and other resources.

  • For interviews, coverage and other press inquiries, contact Leila Nachawati, APC’s media outreach lead: leila@apc.org.

Country: 
Brazil
Media publication date: 
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Article language: 
English
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