We, as representatives of civil society organizations from all over the world present at the 11th Internet Governance Forum in Guadalajara, Mexico, come together to declare our concern about the policy changes related to access, governance and use of the Internet that are taking place in Brazil this year.
Since the first World Summit on the Information Society, in 2003, Brazil has been a key participant on the Internet Governance debate pushing for more participation and the protection of human rights in the digital environment. Brazil is the only country that hosted two editions of the IGF (2007, 2016), showing its support to the open and mulstistakeholder discussion. It is regrettable that, in the IGF 2016, Brazilian government participation is rather restricted. The country that has been an example is now at risk of weakening its most valuable institutions dedicated to Internet Governance: the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee (CGI.br) and Marco Civil da Internet.
The Brazilian Civil Rights Framework for the Internet - “Marco Civil da Internet” (MCI), a Law enacted in 2014, was a result of a long and democratic participatory process that had as its goal the creation of fundamental rights for the use of the Internet. The Law focused on the democratization of Internet access, universalization, net neutrality, freedom of expression, protection of personal data and privacy. It was based on the Decalogue Principles enacted by CGI.br in 2009, in a context of multistakeholder governance.
Due to the recent political changes in the country, the Internet as we know it is now at risk. The current government has started in a questionable power transition and has been refractory to democratic debate, supporting a conservative body of Congress representatives that since long is working against the protection of fundamental rights on the internet. Now, the Congress is about to pass a law that will represent a serious backlash in telecommunications policies that imply the loss of sovereignty over telecommunications networks, compromising the purpose set by MCI of universal access and digital inclusion.
In addition, the Federal Government has announced that it will not develop policies for broadband Internet access and that “the market should promote expansion on its own”. Such new development paradigm goes against the current legal and regulatory framework in the country, which recognizes the key role of the State in achieving universalization and democratization of access and knowledge.
In this context, the government, together with National Telecommunications Agency, has been permissive regarding commercial discriminatory practices, such as allowing for new plans with data caps to be offered, as well as anticompetitive deals between large ISPs and large online platforms.
Since 2015, over two hundred bills proposing changes to the MCI have been presented. Many of them weaken fundamental principles and rights such as net neutrality, non-liability for Internet providers, personal data protection, privacy and freedom of expression. Behind these proposed amendments to the law, we have the heavy lobbying by conservative and authoritarian political forces as well as industries with private interests that go against the public ones.
Now, in 2016, we have witnessed political actions by the Executive branch that threaten multistakeholder governance, more specifically the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee (CGI). Government representatives have openly declared that they intend to review the strength of the civil society representativeness and participation in the committee.
We have also seen judicial decisions that determine the takedown of applications such as WhatsApp, when the company is unable to provide data and content about investigated persons by the police or investigation authorities due to the use of cryptography. Several lawsuits related to such takedowns are now pending before the Brazilian Supreme Court.
We are aware that the award-winning Brazilian coalition called “Direitos na Rede” is fighting all these policy, legal and regulatory and legalchanges that threaten civil rights hardly acquired over the course of several years. We recognize the need to make these backlashes globally known and declare our support to the coalition.
We also urge the Brazilian Government to take immediate measures against these limitations of Internet rights and principles and continues to foster a vibrant Internet ecosystem, where digital inclusion, human rights and democratic governance are priorities.
Guadalajara, December 5th 2016.
To sign the manifesto: email@example.com
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