Institute for technology and society & parliament of Italy – internet bill of rights: Enforcement and Impact

5 Dec 2016 16:30h - 18:00h

Event report

[Read more session reports and live updates from the 11th Internet Governance Forum]

Moderator Mr Carlos Affonso Souza, Institute for Technology & Society – ITS Rio, introduced the topic and presented the basic aims of the session. These were: a discussion on the differences between the Brazilian Internet Bill of Rights known as the Marco Civil (adopted 2014) and the Italian Declaration of Internet Rights (adopted 2015); and a discussion on the challenges of judicial interpretation and enforcement of these Internet bills of rights.

The audience was primarily interested in the Marco Civil. The debate mainly tackled issues of the actual implementation of the Marco Civil and the difficulties in practice. Areas such as the right to be forgotten, data protection and privacy, the liability of intermediaries, and many more were discussed. An important issue that was touched upon several times on different occasions was copyright. The divergent views of intellectual property rights seemed to bring a lot of controversy and pressure.

The first speaker, Mr Stefano Trumpy, Internet Society, Italy, explained to the audience the Italian process of adoption of the declaration, and Italian activities in this field. Trumpy stressed that although Italy has participated in the whole process of international debates on the Internet bill of rights from its very early stages, the political situation in the country has slowed down the whole tempo of adoption.

The next intervention was given by Ms Flavia Lefreve,, who briefed the audience about the Brazilian approach in the adoption of the Marco Civil bill. Lefevre listed the basic principles of the legislation and noted that the most challenging part of the process – the implementation – is happening right now. She mentioned that at the moment, there are over 200 suggested amendments and changes to the bill. Most changes aim at weakening some provisions of the bill such as net neutrality, non-liability, personal data protection, and privacy. Among those, she mentioned strong lobbying by the copyright industry.

After the introduction, the speakers debated with the delegates on some specifics of each document. One member of the audience was concerned whether the Marco Civil is a law by the rich for the rich? Another comment brought up a concern whether the companies that usually invest in infrastructure development (like Google or Facebook) will not slow their investments due to very strict legislation. The speakers agreed that the law will never solve all problems and that governments should support problematic areas with their own policies. General concerns were raised on the issue of the data protection side of the framework, and wondered about the reaction of the Brazilian government to international developments in this field.

The second part of the debate was focused on the issue of the liability of intermediaries. Should ISPs and content providers be liable for the content posted by their users? Specifically, Articles 19 and 21 of the Marco Civil were in question.

The third part of the debate concentrated on the issue of the right to be forgotten. Trumpy and one member of the audience agreed on the importance of accurate wording. According to them, the right to be forgotten cannot be enforced globally and cannot actually force somebody to forget. They suggested the term the ‘right to be unlisted’ would be more appropriate.

by Radek Bejdák