Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

El Marco Civil: An Internet Success Story

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, March 26 2014

Brazil--a new world leader of net neutrality and an open and free Internet? (Wikipedia)

Yesterday evening the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies approved the Marco Civil bill, which contains significant protections for net neutrality, user privacy and security, and freedom of expression. The bill is the product of years of work, including a public consultation period in 2009 and 2010. The day of the vote many Brazilians took part in a “compartilhaço” or “sharing storm” on social media, tagging messages of support for the bill #EuQueroMarcoCivil (#IWantMarcoCivil), which became a worldwide trending topic March 25, the day of the vote.

Carolina Rossini, one of the three original authors of the bill, and now a lawyer at the New America Foundation, told Global Voices:

I feel my Carnival has finally arrived after years of work in partnership with various civil society, academia, policy makers and business groups that understand the Internet as a space for democracy and innovation! This is a collective victory, nationally and internationally.

Some of the things that the Marco Civil would establish include: guaranteeing net neutrality; protecting Internet companies from liability for third party content (except in cases where a court orders content removed); and a strong “Internet bill of rights” that supports freedom of expression, interoperability, protection for personal data, and open government data, among other things.

Notably absent from the current iteration of the Marco Civil bill is the stipulation that Brazilians' data be held within Brazil's borders, an idea floated after the Snowden revelations revealed the extent of NSA surveillance.

Even supporters of the bill acknowledge that Marco Civil isn't perfect—the protections for net neutrality are less rigorous than they could be, allowing for possibly too much future interference from telecommunications companies—but all in all, people agree it's “probably the best possible outcome given the existing political limitations.”

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, called it “the best possible birthday gift for Brazilian and global Web users.”

The World Wide Web turned 25 on March 12.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

For a round-up of our weekly stories, subscribe to the WeGov mailing list.

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

NYC Open Data Advocates Focus on Quality And Value Over Quantity

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications plans to publish more than double the amount of datasets this year than it published to the portal last year, new Commissioner Anne Roest wrote last week in an annual report mandated by the city's open data law, with 135 datasets scheduled to be released this year, and almost 100 more to come in 2015. But as preparations are underway for City Council open data oversight hearings in the fall, what matters more to advocates than the absolute number of the datasets is their quality. GO

Civic Tech and Engagement: Announcing a New Series on What Makes it "Thick"

Announcing a new series of feature articles that we will be publishing over the next several months, thanks to the support of the Rita Allen Foundation. Our focus is on digitally-enabled civic engagement, and in particular, how and under what conditions "thick" digital civic engagement occurs. What we're after is answers to this question: When does a tech tool or platform enable actual people to make ongoing and significant contributions to each other, to a place or cause, at a scale that produces demonstrable change? GO

More