Brazilian lower house approves two cyber crime bills but postpones vote on Internet Bill of Rights

By Isabela Fraga

The Brazil's Chamber of Deputies, the lower legislative house, approved two cyber-crime laws and set a date for the vote on an Internet Bill of Rights, reported the magazine Época on Nov. 7.

According to the newspaper Valor Econômico, complaints about the Bill of Rights from telecommunications businesses and artists, who criticized a section about authors' rights online, led the Chamber to postpone the vote. The bill's sponsor, Deputy Alessandro Molon, requested a plenary session on Nov. 13. This will be the fourth time the vote has been postponed, reported the website TechTudo.

One of the bills passed, called the Azeredo Law, named after Deputy Eduardo Azeredo, was considered for over 10 years and was heavily criticized for limiting user freedom on the Internet and threaten their privacy. The version of the bill approved by the lower house was much less serve than its original draft, remembered Gizmodo, with many of its most controversial points removed. It added credit card falsification and treason to the criminal code, and created a police infrastructure to combat cyber crimes.

The other bill approved by the Chamber criminalized unauthorized access to emails and sensitive information online, punishable up to two years in prison, reported the website Uol. The bill was known as the "Carolina Dieckmann Law," in reference to an instance when intimate photos of the actress were released on the Internet. Both bills now go to President Dilma Rousseff for her signature before they go into effect, reported Estado do São Paulo.

The postponement of the Bill of Rights, which would regulate rights and rules for Internet users, together with the approval of the cyber crime bills turned into a "political problem," said lawyer Ronaldo Lemos of the Getúlio Vargas Foundation in his column for the newspaper Folha de São Paulo. In his opinion, the priority should have been to regulate the civil environment first and then the criminal one, to "build a foundation for the civil use of the web, promoting innovation and predictability. That itself would reduce the need for 'police.'"

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.