Author: Joana Varon

The Internet Filter: understand SOPA and Internet censorship through Latin America’s context

The right of every citizen to seek, receive and share information is protected both in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). As regards Latin American countries specifically, the American Convention on Human Rights lays down rules on censorship in Article 13. Similarly, the Tunis Agenda also recognizes these rights within the Information Society. However, despite the fact that freedom of expression depends on the free flow of information, there is a tendency for national and regional laws to intervene in the end-to-end architecture of the Internet, prevent the free flow of information and thus undermine the rights of every citizen to freedom of expression and privacy. This context shows how utterly important it is to watch abusive Internet legislation worldwide. This is the intent of the book “Towards an Internet Free of Censorship”, published by CELE (Center for Research on Free Speech and Access to Knowledge), in which researchers Joana Varon Ferraz, Carlos Affonso Pereira de Souza, Bruno Magrani and Walter Britto participate with the chapter entitled “Content Filtering in Latin America: Reasons and Impacts on Freedom of Expression”. Several Latin American governments and governments around the world, allegedly for the fight against piracy or the sake of security, have proposed legal texts that impose criminalization of legitimate expressions; liability of intermediaries; and disconnection of users on the...

Read More

Draft Bill for a Civil Rights-Based Framework for Internet in Brazil

The draft bill proposition for a Civil Right’s Based Framework for Internet in Brazil has just reached Congress. The English translation of this version is available here. It is the result of an initiative from the Brazilian Ministry of Justice, in partnership with the Center for Technology and Society of the Getulio Vargas Foundation (CTS/FGV), to develop a collaborative online/offline consultation process in which all the actors from Brazilian society could identify together the rights and responsibilities that should guide the use of the Internet in Brazil. The process, which resulted in a Bill of Law, is an example of the importance and the great potential of multistakeholder involvement on policy-making. The online consultation was divided into two periods, each of them spanning roughly 45 days. The first period of the consultation involved a debate about general principles, which then served as reference for the writing of the text of draft Bill. These principles were divided into three groups: (1) individual and collective rights (privacy, freedom of speech, and access rights), (2) principles related to intermediaries (net neutrality and civil liability), and (3) governmental directives (openness, infrastructure, and capacity building). The draft text for the Bill, reflecting the comments received on its first phase, was then put under consultation for the second period. Contributions were received through a website hosted by Cultura Digital, an online platform developed by the...

Read More

Dilma advocates breaking drug patents during UN speech

Translation by Walter Britto of the Brazilian news article “Dilma defende quebra de patentes de medicamentos em discurso na ONU,” by Luciana Xavier, O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper: In her speech during the opening of United Nation’s (UN) Special Summit on Chronic Diseases, Brazilian president Dilma Roussef upheld patent-breaking for select drugs. The summit happened at the UN’s headquarters, in New York, last Monday the 19th. Once more, she has spoken favorably about breaking patents for those drugs necessary for treating non-communicable chronic diseases, like diabetes and hypertension, and gratuitous access to medicaments for low-income populations to treat these diseases. Full article | Full...

Read More

In disregard of public interest, USTR keeps Brazil on it’s Watch List of IPRs

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has just released it’s annual “Special 301 Report”. The report has been instrument for political pressure from USA regarding their ideal enforcement measures for protection of intellectual property rights (IPR). The Brazilian government does not legitimize either the report or the processes it tries to push forward, once it is done outside the official international fora for debating IPRs: WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) or WTO (World Trade Organization). Unfortunately, some pressures have been effective, copyright industry representatives tend to use it’s arguments to entails unsuccessful piracy campaigns instead of rebuilding business models according to the possibilities brought by new technologies and thinking about solving market failures on the actual context. It has also been mentioned as reference by some Brazilian politicians who are unconscious about Foreign Relations political guidelines to disconsider it as appropriate and fair foreign policy instrument and to fight for a International Intellectual Property Regime that takes into account exceptions and limitations to IP right concerning different levels of development and the need for access to knowledge. Nonetheless, even transpassing questions of sovereignty, USTR keeps mentioning the country. The latest one bring the mentions bellow: “Brazil remains on the Watch List. The United States is encouraged by recent improvements that Brazil made with respect to IPR protection and enforcement.  Of note was a recent opinion by...

Read More

Misleading concepts in the Brazilian government´s recent proposal on IP enforcement

Against the odds, the government of the recently-elected Brazilian President Dilma Roussef didn´t start well for the critics of the Brazilian copyright law and activists of the movement on access to knowledge, who highlights the need to enforce exceptions and limitations on intellectual property, mostly the ones that are already properly foreseen on international agreements. The reasons for such an estimation are clear: the first draft bill sent to Congress by the Executive was concerned strengthening the enforcement against the so called  ‘Piracy Crimes’ and appeared right after the nomination of a Minister of Culture closed linked with the Central Collection and Distribution Office (ECAD) – the main opposition to copyright reform. This possibly represents a step backward for a reform process that has been underway for years. Filed in January, 5th and numbered as PL 8052/2011 , the draft bill alters the Code of Criminal Procedure willing to speed up the trials of copyright crimes. Proposed measures includes lowering the requirements to retain and store seized goods for evidence and the right to base charges on a sample of goods, rather than a complete itemization of infringing items (a relevant issue when dealing with large quantities of pirated discs, for example). The text was written by an inter-ministerial committee, the National Council on Combating Piracy and Intellectual Property Crimes (CNCP), composed by both government ministries and private industry...

Read More