Brazilian senators unite towards determination to restrict content material removing from social networks

Following Jair Bolsonaro’s decision to change the regulation to limit the moderation powers of social networking platforms earlier this week, the senators are calling for the measure to be suspended immediately.

According to the changes announced on Monday (6) introduced by a preliminary measure, social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube must follow a series of procedures and justify their decisions before deleting content or users who than violate their terms of use.

Bolsonaro’s decision to change current laws to impose stricter rules on platforms has been portrayed as a means of ensuring freedom of expression online. On the other hand, it is seen as a move to support allies of the president whose content has been removed from the platforms. The measure caused an uproar in the legal community, as such legislative changes could not be made by decree. According to experts, the measures also facilitate the spread of fake news.

The decision amends the country’s current legislation governing the use of the Internet – the Marco Civil da Internet, known as the Internet Constitution – which has been in force since 2014. Following the decision, Senator Alessandro Vieira filed an injunction with the Supreme Court to demand the immediate suspension of the amendments. The provisional measure is valid for two months from the date of its publication and must be voted on within 45 days.

Senator Zenaide Maia noted that the president’s decision was “yet another attack on democracy” and stressed that the changes make it difficult for companies to remove false or harmful content from the Internet. “[The measure] only benefits hate networks and fake news producers, “she added.

Likewise, Senator Randolfe Rodrigues, who collects signatures for his stressed freedom of expression, is already covered in the Marco Civil da Internet, one of the world’s most progressive legislations on this subject.

Senator Angelo Coronel, who also heads a parliamentary commission investigating the alleged dissemination of fake news by government agents and who is rapporteur for a law introducing the Brazilian Law on Freedom, Responsibility and Transparency on the Internet, has sent a letter to the Presidency of the Senate and requested that the provisional measure be returned to the executive branch.

“This is a widely controversial issue, so it requires wide debate, a role for the National Congress; it can never be the subject of any interim measure,” Senator Coronel said.

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