Dear Platform Friends!
I honestly did not anticipate this would happen anytime soon, but the
Brazilian Congress is actually considering a bill that includes some of the
main elements of the Santa Clara Principles. The issue, however, is much
more complicated than it may seem.
The so-called Fake News bill was rushed through the Senate in the last
couple of months and valuable discussion opportunities have been lost. Many
Brazilian activists and scholars were being forced to go over new 60+ page
reports published by the rapporteur every two days with new versions of the
bill, sometimes containing drastic changes. Right now it seems this will
repeat itself in the House of Representatives, as news outlets today
reported that the House president has declared both his intent to have the
bill go through the House in two or three weeks and his belief in the need
for stark punishment - including criminal prosecution - of people
responsible for disseminating fake news. Because any substantive changes to
the bill at this point would require it to go back to the Senate, it is
unlikely that we will see multiple versions of the bill being formalized
every couple of days. This is good news given how little time civil society
in Brazil will have to make its voice heard.
It is important to note that most if not all previous versions of the bill
contained appalling dispositions that urged Brazilians to sound the alert
abroad and I am thankful that many foreign activists and scholars answered
and weighed in. While there remain controversial and perhaps even
unconstitutional dispositions in the version that emerged from the Senate,
none compare in their predictable negative social impact as the previous
version of article 7 that would have forced social networks to required
picture IDs from any user upon registration, or dispositions that would
have increased the jail time for online defamation or even the obligation
of social networks to moderate 'disinformation'.
The attitude of many civil society groups that did not carefully go over
the current version, however, remains one of rejection of the bill in its
entirety. With the text changing rapidly, the Senate’s disregard for civil
society input and elements of the bill lost in translation, many foreigners
who have never had the opportunity to actually read the text of the bill
seem to be under the impression that it still contains all of the worst
aspects of each version that was circulated.
My concern results not only from the fact that this is not the case, but
also from my opinion that there are dispositions in the bill that would
create much needed guarantees to protect users from social networks.
Articles 12 and 13 would enshrine in legislation safeguards that scholars
(including in this list) have recommended for years. It is my opinion,
therefore, that civil society should use its precious time and efforts to
criticize and try to repel specific dispositions (the proverbial bath
water) and perhaps save articles 12 and 13, if nothing else - there are
other dispositions that are very welcome, such as articles 14, 15 and 18,
The team at the Center for Technology and Society at FGV Law School in Rio
hopes to allow all non-Portuguese-speaking stakeholders to make up their
own mind about the bill. =) We have hastily but carefully translated all of
the text to English and made it available here: bit.ly/br_fakenewsbill.
While we wholeheartedly welcome suggestions to improve the final result, we
hope that a translation manually curated by legal researchers will
contribute to significantly enhance the international debate about the
bill. I look forward to your thoughts!
On Thu, May 14, 2020 at 9:43 PM Nicolas Suzor <nic(a)suzor.net> wrote:
Hi friends! [and with standard apologies for
Something I mentioned last time we met – which seems so long ago now.
I want to draw your attention to the consultation process to update
the Santa Clara Principles on Transparency and Accountability in
Content Moderation: https://santaclaraprinciples.org/cfp/
These principles have proved somewhat useful in getting tech companies
to improve the information they provide to users about content
takedowns under their Terms of Service. EFF had a list in 2019 of
major platforms that had endorsed or at least partially adopted them:
There’s going to be a big revision process over the next year, and the
first stage is to hear from advocates and scholars working in the
area. Any comments you can provide would be greatly appreciated
(deadline is 30 June 2020).
This consultation is an acknowledgement that the drafting of the
initial principles was a relatively quick process by a small group of
civil society advocates and scholars, and we left a lot of important
voices out. The important thing for the next version is to make sure
that they represent a more diverse set of views and address the major
challenges that people have identified and are facing. We’d also
appreciate if you could circulate the call for submissions to others
who may be interested.
Any questions, let me know.
Nicolas Suzor <n.suzor(a)qut.edu.au>au>; http://nic.suzor.net
Professor, QUT Law School: http://staff.qut.edu.au/staff/suzor
Chief Investigator, QUT Digital Media Research Centre:
ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society
New book: Lawless: the secret rules that govern our digital lives
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