Regulating Online Platforms Beyond the Marco Civil in Brazil: The Controversial “Fake News Bill”

Joan Barata is a Senior Fellow at Justitia’s Future Free Speech project, and is also a Fellow of the Program on Platform Regulation at the Stanford Cyber Policy Center. Campo Grande, MS, Brazil – November 6, 2022: Brazilian protesters on the streets asking for federal intervention after Lula’s election. Vinicius Bacarin/Shutterstock Introduction Brazil’s President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has referred a proposed law to the Congress. Colloquially referred to as the “Fake News Bill,” the draft legislation originates in a proposal made by Senator Viera in 2020 and is aimed at regulating online platforms and instant messaging services in the country. The proposed legislation has been under discussion in recent years, but enjoys a new political urgency under the new presidency.  Unfortunately, the Bill threatens to undo many of the rights-protective innovations of Brazil’s most important internet law, the 2014 Marco Civil da Internet. In its stead, the new law would severely limit the scope of the principle of intermediary liability exemption, enable the application of very strict yet vaguely-defined crisis protocols, impose risk assessment and mitigation obligations without sufficient safeguards against arbitrariness and excessive impact on human rights, as well as broadly criminalize the dissemination of “untrue facts” in violation of existing human rights standards, among other issues. Debates around the Bill are taking place in a context of political polarization and an expected Supreme Court decision in a series of cases where the Court has accepted to assess the constitutionality of article 19 of the Marco Civil…Regulating Online Platforms Beyond the Marco Civil in Brazil: The Controversial “Fake News Bill”