Fences in the ether: Brazil's proposed Internet laws

By Andy Oram
August 29, 2008

Imagine trying to promote universal Internet access and a robust online business environment with the following laws in place:

  • Every Internet transaction, including accesses from cybercafes and public parks, must be recorded.

  • Draconian punishments are meted out for violating vague prohibitions on "unauthorized access to information systems" or "disclosing personal information," but companies who hire professionals to investigate such violations are exempt from many laws governing intrusions and snooping.

  • Access providers are required to report any accusations of violations to the police. This presumably includes universities, who will be required to enforce restrictions by copyright holders on downloads by their students.

It all sounds like a mock-cartoon version of repressive censorship laws, and in fact these regulations were satirized in the graphic novel O'Reilly published earlier this year, Hackerteen, Volume 1: Internet Blackout. But the author of the novel, Marcelo Marques, informed me that the proposals are real. They have been widely discussed in the Brazilian blogosphere and to some extent in the Brazilian press and TV, but they've received hardly any attention in the United States.

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