BRAZIL FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net Telecom, POP, Terra, and UOL—control more than 50 percent of the market.18 Seven private companies share the mobile-phone market, of which the largest four control over percent.The National Telecommunications Agency (ANATEL) and the Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE), an antitrust body, work to ensure that information and communication technologies (ICTs) operate in a free, fair, and independent manner.
The two agencies have a cooperation agreement that defines their competencies. The CADE is authorized by the General Telecommunications Law to have the final word when dealing with antitrust issues, such as market concentration and price setting.20 In a pioneering initiative, the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee, a multi-stakeholder organization, was created in 1995 to guarantee transparency and social participation in decisions related to internet governance.21 Committee members come from the government, the private sector, academia, and nongovernmental organizations, with the last group chosen since 2004 in relatively democratic and open elections.
LIMITS ON CONTENT The government does not employ any technical methods to filter or otherwise limit access to online content. Nonetheless, legal action by the judiciary and government officials has emerged in recent years as a possible barrier to free speech and a means of removing content that is deemed undesirable.
It is increasingly common for civil and administrative charges to be filed against ISPs, online news journals, and bloggers. Google Brazil and some of its services, such as Orkut and YouTube, have been the target of numerous judicial demands,22 some of which have involved the removal of content that would be a matter of public interest. In a groundbreaking decision in February 2009, a judge obliged Google to change its search results in Brazil with regard to a Brazilian businessman.23 Other rulings ordered the closure of e-mail and blog accounts, and the deletion of pages from Orkut to protect individuals’ Teleco, “Seo: Banda Larga—Provedores de Acesso Internet” [Section: Broadband—Internet Access Providers], May 14, 2010, http://www.teleco.com.br/internet_prov.asp.
Teleco, “Seo: Telefonia Celular—Operadoras de Celular, Jun/10” [Section: Cellular Telephony—Cellular Operators, June 2010], August 5, 2010, http://www.teleco.com.br/opcelular.asp.
Maria Ceclia Andrade, Ubiratan Mattos, and Pedro C. E. Vicentini, “Reforms in Brazilian Telecommunications Regulations and their Impact on Sector Competition,” in The Antitrust Review of the Americas 2009 (London: Global Competition Review, 2009), http://www.globalcompetitionreview.com/reviews/9/sections/31/chapters/361/reforms-brazilian-telecommunicationsregulations-impact-sector-competition; Teleco, “Regulation: Legislation Guide,” July, 28, 2010, http://www.teleco.com.br/en/en_legis.asp.
See the website of the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee, http://www.cg.org.br/internacional/index.htm.
Danny O’Brien, “Is Brazil the Censorship Capital of the Internet Not Yet,” CPJ Blog, April 28, 2010, http://cpj.org/blog/2010/04/is-brazil-the-censorship-capital-of-the-internet.php.
Alessandro Cristo, “Justia discute permanncia de notcias na internet” [Justice Discusses How to Keep News Online], Consultor Jurdico, March 21, 2009, http://www.conjur.com.br/2009-mar-21/justica-decide-noticias-ficaram-velhas-internet.
BRAZIL FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net “Right of Publicity” (their right to control how their name and image is used), to combat pedophilia, or to limit copyright infringements. In April 2010, Google began publishing a list of the countries whose government agencies send the most requests for content removal or data disclosure; Brazil topped the list with 291 in December 2009, an increase from 2008.24 According to Brazilian legal experts, the take-down notices and other orders generally stem from private legal disputes rather than direct demands from the government.Upon receipt of a take-down notice, ISPs and other companies are expected to remove the content, but the affected user may then challenge the removal in court. Some free expression groups have argued that this system, which effectively places the legal burden on the owner, producer, or host of the censored content and allows only after-thefact remedies, leaves room for abuse and suppression of critical speech. The current practice has developed somewhat informally and is not established by law, but Congress is considering legislation that would codify it.Past state-initiated censorship attempts have primarily appeared in the context of elections. However, in a positive development, following strong political pressure, the Senate in September 2009 approved changes to the electoral law that permitted the use of the internet in political campaigns. The Superior Electoral Court had prohibited online campaigning during the 2008 elections.27 The new law, No. 12.034/09, protects freedom of speech. It also stipulates that election propaganda over the internet would be permitted after July 5, 2010, the same date when paid advertisements on radio and television were authorized to begin ahead of October general elections; any premature advertising could result in sanctions. Candidates are also permitted to campaign through social networks, instant messaging, and the Twitter microblogging service, but the content must be generated or edited by candidates, parties, or coalitions. While ordinary citizens are permitted to post comments in favor of candidates as a matter of their individual personal opinion, paid campaign advertisements or even free advertising on the websites of corporations or public entities are forbidden. Infractions of these campaign rules can be Google, “Government Requests,” http://www.google.com/governmentrequests, accessed August 10, 2010; O’Brien, “Is Brazil the Censorship Capital of the Internet Not Yet.” Such lawsuits can be filed more easily in Brazil than in many other countries, where other forms of dispute resolution or regulation of online content prevail. See O’Brien, “Is Brazil the Censorship Capital of the Internet Not Yet.” Ibid.
The court’s resolution, No. 22.718, determined that electoral campaigns and advertisements could only be posted on a candidate’s web page. It barred electoral campaigns from using such tools as Orkut, YouTube, e-mail, and text messaging, and prohibited them from buying advertising space on the internet. Paula Ges, “Brazil: Blogs Banned from the 2008 Elections,” Global Voices, March 30, 2008, http://globalvoicesonline.org/2008/03/30/brazil-blogs-banned-from-the-2008-elections/;
Superior Electoral Tribunal, Resolution No. 22.718, available at http://www.tse.gov.br/internet/eleicoes/2008/pdf/r22718.pdf; Gaurav Dua, “Orkut Brazil Warns Users Against Political Showdown Regarding Upcoming Elections,” Orkut Plus, September 14, 2008, http://www.orkutplus.net/2008/09/orkutbrazil-warns-users-against-political-showdown-regarding-upcoming-elections.html.
BRAZIL FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net punished with severe fines. In practice, during the run-up to the October elections, a range of candidates were indeed able to make use of social media in their campaigns.
National and international news sources are unrestricted, and Brazilians freely gather information through the internet, mobile-phone technology, and other ICTs.28 Blogs,photoblogs, social-networking platforms,30 and citizen journalism have proliferated in recent years.31 With 86 percent of internet users regularly connected to Orkut and other socialmedia sites, Brazil has the highest social-media penetration rate in the world. In 2009, social media accounted for 22 percent of Brazilians’ time online.32 As of August 2010, Orkut remained Brazil’s leading social networking tool, reaching over 36 million people.
However, the number of Facebook users increased dramatically from 2009 as Brazilians sought to connect with acquaintances outside the country where Orkut is less popular.
Twitter’s popularity also grew significantly, nearly doubling its penetration to 23 percent of internet users.There have been a host of projects aimed at improving government transparency and democratic governance via use of the internet, such as the e-Democracy project led by Congress and “Adopt a Representative,” a civil society initiative to increase public supervision of local officials and participation in policymaking.34 In addition, the government in 2009 released online many documents from the country’s dictatorship period.35 Another recent phenomenon has been the growing number of policemen who write blogs intended to build public trust. Other examples include projects promoting open access to public Maira Magro, “Journalists Exchange Experiences About Online News During Seminar in So Paulo,” Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, June 14, 2010, http://knightcenter.utexas.edu/events_article.phppage=9946.
Some top-ranked Brazilian blogs are listed here: Caio Caprioli, “Os blogs mais acessados do Brasil” [The Most Accessed Blogs in Brazil], Metablog, May 5, 2008, http://colunistas.ig.com.br/metablog/2008/05/05/os-blogs-mais-acessados-do-brasil; “Top 100 Blogs Brasileiros Segundo o Pagerrank e os Backlinks” [Top 100 Brazilian Blogs According to Pagerrank and Backlinks], Internney, August 18, 2007, http://www.interney.net/p=9760065.
Google’s Orkut is incredibly popular in Brazil. In June, Brazilians made up 48.2 percent of Orkut users worldwide. See Alexa, “Orkut.com,” http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/Orkut.com#; Matt Rhodes, “Brazil Tops League of Social Media Users,” Fresh Networks, June 15, 2010, http://www.freshnetworks.com/blog/2010/06/nielsen-study-social-media-22-percent-timeonline/; ComScore, “Eighty Five Percent of Brazilian Internet Users Visited a Social Networking Site in September 2008,” news release, November 19, 2008, http://www.comscore.com/press/release.asppress=2592.
Brazilians are active in the Global Voices citizen journalism project, and there is a Brazilian site for user-generated content called Overmundo. See Global Voices’ Brazil page at http://globalvoicesonline.org/-/world/americas/brazil/, and Overmundo at http://www.overmundo.com.br/.
“Social Networks/Blogs Now Account for One in Every Four and a Half Minutes Online,” Nielsen Wire (blog), June 15, 2010, http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/social-media-accounts-for-22-percent-of-time-online/.
Sarah Radwanick, “Orkut Continues to Lead brazil’s Social Networking Market, Facebook Audience grows Fivefold,” press release, ComScore, October 7, 2010, http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2010/10/Orkut_Continues_to_Lead_Brazil_s_Social_Networking _Market_Facebook_Audience_Grows_Fivefold/(language)/eng-US.
Technology for Transparency Network, “Adote um Vereador” [Adopt a Representative], http://transparency.globalvoicesonline.org/project/adote-um-vereador.
Yana Marull, “Brazil Puts Dictatorship Files on the Web,” Sydney Morning Herald, May 14, 2009, http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-technology/brazil-puts-dictatorship-files-on-the-web-20090514-b3zw.html.
BRAZIL FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net information and governmental data,36 and projects tracking the quality and security of public schools through online platforms and mobile phones.
Brazilian bloggers and citizen journalists regularly take advantage of digital technologies to circulate information and mobilize protests, including surrounding natural disasters. When severe rain and mudslides occurred in Rio de Janeiro in April 2010, online activists played a critical role in providing information to the news media and the public.
This included creating a collaborative map displaying various forms of damage suffered across the metropolis.37 Mobile phones have become a major tool for organizing events like the annual gay rights parade in So Paulo, as well as a means for bringing attention to the prevalence of violent crime.
In an example of online opinion impacting policy debates, the Civil Rights Framework for the Internet in Brazil, an internet regulation bill before Congress, attracted considerable public commentary through blogs, Twitter (at #marcocivil), and other online platforms. The New York–based Committee to Protect Journalists and critics in Brazil said that the initial language in the bill would promote censorship,38 as it allowed third parties to request content removal based on complaints of any kind. The bill’s subsequent draft,39 the result of public pressure and comments, renders web hosts liable only if they fail to comply with a direct court order to remove content, rather than requiring them to preemptively self-censor. The bill was still awaiting passage as of December 2010. Similarly widespread social participation featured in the discussions surrounding the reform of the Brazilian Copyright Act (on Twitter at #reformaLDA). Civil society groups have joined forces with academics to support or criticize the government and press for a transparent process and a more flexible copyright law.40 There are still concerns about the bill’s potential impact on internet access. It too was still pending as of December 2010, as many pieces of legislation were put on hold until after the fall elections.
Maira Magro, “Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies Approves Bill Granting Access to Public Information,” Journalism in the Americas, April 14, 2010, http://knightcenter.utexas.edu/blog/q=en/node/6940; see also the website of the civil society group Frum de Direito de Acesso a Informaes Pblicas [Forum for the Right of Access to Public Information] at http://www.informacaopublica.org.br/.
Maira Magro, “Brazil’s Citizen Journalists Crucial in Covering Record Floods,” Journalism in the Americas, April 9, 2010, http://knightcenter.utexas.edu/blog/q=en/node/6900; “Veja o mapa da devastao no Rio e colabore” [View Map of Devastation in Rio and Collaborate], O Globo, http://oglobo.globo.com/rio/info/chuva/.