Marco Civil

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= New legislation providing a bill of rights for internet users in Brazil was signed into law by President Dilma Rousseff on April 23, 2014.


Rich Falkvinge:

" Marco Civil which establishes a firm charter of rights online – it establishes net neutrality, it establishes that net access is a precondition for the ability to exercise citizenship, and it establishes that carriers are never responsible for carried traffic. If enacted, this would establish a firm world leadership in seeing the net as a fundamentally positive force of change." (

2. Rolando Lemos:

"The "Marco Civil da Internet" is a comprehensive law that essentially creates a bill of rights for the internet in Brazil. The legislation was originally drafted through an open, collaborative process with contributions from a variety of stakeholders—private individuals, civil society organizations, telecommunication companies, and government agencies all participated. Each contributor could see other comments and all perspectives were considered.

The only drawback to the law is the requirement that both connection providers and service providers retain user data for a year and a half, though this is dependent on a court order. But this is better than the current situation, where user data is often stored for five years.

Without the Marco Civil, freedom of speech in Brazil would consistently be under threat. For example, in 2007, a judge shut down YouTube for the entire country because a Brazilian model filed a lawsuit to block footage of her and her boyfriend in an intimate situation. Another recent case involved a judge threatening to shut down Facebook because of a lawsuit between neighbors engaged in a dispute over a dog. Without the Marco Civil, there would be no safe harbors for free speech.

The Brazilian Marco Civil runs counter to laws recently implemented in countries like Turkey and Russia which expanded the powers of governments to regulate the internet.

Brazil's law can be a model for other countries. It sends a message that we need to encourage a vibrant and open public sphere online. The approval of the Marco Civil is a victory on behalf of all democracies. Brazil has taken a stand to actively protect an open and free internet. And that is a requisite for an open and free society as well." (


The Marco Civil as a participatory process

Kate Krontiris:

"The Marco Civil is civil legislation that articulates important elements of how the country will regulate privacy, freedom of expression, net neutrality, and a host of other Internet and society issues.

The substance of the law emerged from colleagues at the Center for Technology and Society of the Law School at the Fundação Getulio Vargas in Rio who had been thinking for some time about how to respond to the country’s only (and inappropriately targeted) legislation about the Internet, which focused on cyber crime. The country’s former President Lula was also developing an interest in these issues, perhaps due to widespread pressure from Brazilian civil society, and the Ministry of Justice was asked to launch a public consultation about the issue.

In addition to a set of town hall meetings around the country, this government-civil society collaborative deployed a tool unprecedented in Brazilian lawmaking, but appropriate for the topic: an online platform for interested parties to submit their comments, suggestions, ideas, and concerns. The response from interested parties was significant, and over the course of the next few years, the country managed to pass Internet legislation that is globally viewed as a kind of gold standard.

Since I care about everyday people having greater ownership over the public decisions that affect their lives, I was curious to understand what impact this online public engagement actually had: what about the bill might have been different had the public not participated so robustly?

I asked our government discussants this question and their answer was “no question, it was totally different.” They said that debates in Congress actually shifted on multiple occasions due to the external inputs that this process channeled.

This was due in part to the high rate of participation among academics, tech elite, and civil society actors who had direct expertise in the technical and political issues under discussion, and also because the organizing team within the government accepted every invitation to debate the merits of the legislation, no matter whom their hosts.

Like any multi-year legislative process, the Marco Civil encountered challenges – not the least of which were the “Snowden revelations,” which brought the bill to the forefront as a potential response by the Brazilian government, but also threatened to pollute its contents with politically-driven provisions that would ultimately be bad for the Internet.

The final law was approved in April of this year, but many important issues still need to be clarified. Brazil’s definition of net neutrality and guidelines for which agency will oversee its implementation remain unspecified. The retention of data (for what purposes, on what grounds, and with what mechanisms) and key aspects of copyright law also need to be clarified. With elections upcoming, the country waits to see how these major, complicated legal issues will be resolved.

What strikes me most about this case is not actually what it accomplished – there is widespread acknowledgment that the Marco Civil is incomplete – but rather the process by which it was developed.

We heard time and again that this inclusive, responsive, transparent, and digital process was just as important, if not more important, than the outcomes. We also heard widespread desire to repurpose the same process on other policy issues.

It is likely because this particular set of internet and society issues is embedded with a particular set of values about openness, sharing, and collaboration, that a public governance process that was deliberately and digitally consultative emerged. My colleague Primavera De Filippi observed that this process was probably the best calibrated it could have been for the people who most care about this issue (let’s call them political tech geeks). Process matched subject, values, and participants in a very elegant and complete manner.

Skeptics might ask: if we were to debate agricultural issues, would an online platform be the best way to capture the opinions of the people who most know and care about that issue? And should we design our participatory platforms for those with the highest of stakes in the issues? I am not convinced that an online platform is necessarily the best tool for soliciting public opinion on public problems (internet penetration in Brazil is about 67 percent), nor that we should design participation mechanisms to suit the people who are most likely to engage." (