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Bill on fake news proposes parliamentary immunity on social media

The rapporteur of the bill that deals with the fight against fake news (PL 2630/20), deputy Orlando Silva (PCdoB-SP), presented a new version of the text. The proposal should be voted on by the Plenary of the Chamber of Deputies in the coming days. One of the main points is the guarantee of parliamentary immunity on the networks, which does not mean the end of the possibility of prosecuting criminal acts.

The proposal seeks to improve Brazilian legislation regarding freedom, responsibility and transparency on the internet in relation to fake news. The rules will apply to providers of social networks, search tools and instant messaging that offer services to the Brazilian public, including companies based abroad, whose number of registered users in the country exceeds 10 million.

The working group (WG) of the Chamber of Deputies that analyzed the matter concluded in December last year the vote on the report. One of the changes to the text presented now in relation to the one approved by the WG is the assimilation of social media to the media for the purposes of complying with article 22 of the Ineligibility Law.

The article says that any political party, coalition, candidate or Electoral Public Prosecutor may request the opening of an investigation in the Electoral Justice to investigate misuse of social media for the benefit of a candidate or party, such as the use of fake news. “The equating of digital platforms with media serves only and only for the effectiveness of electoral justice to take place fully when there is abuse in the activity in these spaces”, said Silva.

Urgency and voting of the Bill

According to Orlando Silva, the new text has already been sent to the Speaker of the House, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), and the rapporteur’s expectation is that the urgency request for the matter of the bill on fake news will be considered next week.

Silva highlighted that, to prepare the text, he held meetings with leaders and benches of the parties in the Chamber, with the Executive Power and with the Judiciary, including the Superior Electoral Court and the Minister of the Supreme Federal Court Alexandre Moraes, rapporteur of the investigation that investigates fake news. In addition, according to him, representatives of companies and civil society were heard on the topic of fake news.

As the matter will return to the Senate, Silva also discussed the text with leaders in the Senate; with the author of the project, Senator Alessandro Vieira (PSDB-RS); and with the rapporteur of the proposal in that House, Senator Angelo Coronel (PSD-BA). He considers the changes to be well-received. Silva’s expectation is that even the governing bench will vote in favor of the proposal, except for the highlights of the benches to vote on certain points separately. He expects the vote to be completed in April.

Parliamentary immunity and fake news

One of the changes in relation to the Senate text was the inclusion of a provision providing that parliamentary immunity in relation to opinions will be extended to social networks.

The rapporteur emphasizes that this immunity will not prevent the action of Justice. “The case of deputy Daniel Silveira (União-RJ) is the best emblem to demonstrate that material parliamentary immunity does not serve to protect or harbor crime or criminals. It is the perfect example of this: a parliamentarian trying to take shelter in parliamentary immunity saw the force of justice. The Judiciary will decide the Daniel Silveira case on the basis of crimes typified in the legislation that deal with the defense of the Democratic State of Law”, he said.

official accounts

The proposal considers in the public interest, subject to the rules and principles of public administration, the social network accounts indicated as institutional by public bodies and political agents. These accounts cannot, for example, block users.

In the new text, the rapporteur makes it clear that, if he has more than one account on a platform, the political agent or public servant will indicate the one that officially represents his mandate or position to the respective regulatory body, the others being exempt from obligations.

Telegram logo – Image: kovop58/Shutterstock.com

Representation in Brazil

The proposal obliges providers to be represented by a legal entity in Brazil, which especially affects the Telegram application. The new text makes it clear that the representation must have full powers to answer before the administrative and judicial spheres; to provide competent authorities with information; to comply with court orders; and respond to possible penalties.

“It went from a mere formal representation to a representation that is capable of complying with judicial determinations. It is not enough to designate Bruno Góes as Telegram’s representative in Brazil. It is necessary to constitute a legal entity so that this representation gives capacity and competence to defend the needs and demands of Brazil”, explained Orlando Silva.

journalistic content

The working group also included in the text of the Senate a provision for the journalistic content used by the providers to be remunerated. The idea is to value the information produced by professional journalism as a way to combat misinformation.

In the new substitute, the rapporteur sought to make it clear who may benefit from the remuneration of journalistic content – that is, a company established at least one year after the publication of the law, which produces original journalistic content on a regular, organized, professional basis and that maintains an address physicist and responsible editor in Brazil.

According to Orlando Silva, the idea is to value those who are headquartered and responsible editor in Brazil. He points out that there is concern from the independent media that the remuneration is concentrated in large media. The deputy promises to seek a fairer and more accurate wording until the day of consideration of the proposal in the Plenary.

transparency reports

According to the text approved by the WG, providers of social networks and messaging services will have to prepare and publish semi-annual transparency reports with the main actions taken in the period. Orlando Silva explained that he modified some items that the transparency reports should contain, since “there was fear that certain published information could make life easier for malicious actors”.

He referred to the Internet Management Committee (CGI.br) the possibility of requesting, by reasoned act, certain information, which would no longer be public.

self-regulation

The new substitute says that providers will be able to create a self-regulatory institution focused on transparency and responsibility in the use of the internet. In the old text, the creation of the institution was mandatory.

sanctions

The rapporteur also explained that he sought to calibrate the sanctions and establish a limit for the amount per infraction. The text approved by the working group provides for a fine of up to 10% of the economic group’s revenues in Brazil for non-compliance with the law. The new substitute establishes that, in the absence of billing, the fine will be from R$10 to R$1,000 per user registered with the sanctioned provider and that the fine will be limited, in total, to R$50 million per infraction.

Validity

In the new text, the rapporteur sets different deadlines for compliance with the different provisions of the law. It establishes a period of one year for the entry into force of some provisions of the text, such as the production of transparency reports. For other points, the period of validity will be 90 days from the publication of the law, if approved.

For still others, the validity will be immediate, such as the rules for the representation of companies in Brazil and the assimilation of social media to the media for the purposes of applying the Law of Ineligibility. According to Orlando Silva, this means that these rules may already be valid for these elections, if the proposal is voted on and published before the elections.

“I am convinced that this law can help to have safer and more reliable elections, combat disinformation in messaging services and create restrictions for public agents to handle their positions and use public structures to serve disinformation”, evaluated the rapporteur.

Source: Chamber Agency

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