Cries of censorship lead Brazil to alter internet bill

By Maira Magro

draft law that establishes internet rights and responsibilities for citizens, business, and the government has received hundreds of responses since the online comment period began last month. Responding to critics, the Justice Ministry has eliminated language that some claimed would effectively force web site hosts—including media outlets—to remove content immediately after private, non-judicial complaints.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, along with critics in Brazilsay the previous language in the bill would promote censorship by allowing third parties to request content removal for complaints of any kind, including defamation. (The CPJ says this language went even further than the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which has also been criticized on free speech grounds.)

The bill’s new language makes web hosts liable only if they fail to comply with a direct court order to remove content.

This debate coincides with Google’s recent announcement that Brazil, more than any other country, has asked for content to be removed from its servers, Reuters explains. On its social networking site Orkut, it says the majority of content removal requests were related to impersonation or defamation.

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.