In response to Brazilian citizens’ widespread outrage over the NSA leaks, President Dilma Rousseff has given “constitutional urgency” to an amendment aimed at protecting her country’s Internet users. Some fear, however, that the new legislation could lead to a “substandard version of the Net.”

The bill called Marco Civil da Internet (translated roughly as the civil rights framework of the Internet) places utmost importance on defending users’ privacy and free speech rights, but it will also require all Web firms to store duplicates of their Brazilian clients’ personal data in the South American country. This would mean cloud services operating in Brazil will fall under the rule of local law. The BBC reports what critics of the amendment have to say about these provisions:

…the most prominent supporters of the original version of the bill think that not only will the amendment fail to secure individual’s data, it will also drive up the costs for companies operating in Brazil, and impede local innovation.

Ronaldo Lemos is the director of the Institute of Technology and Society in Rio de Janeiro and one of the architects of the Marco Civil.

“This forced local data storage will make internet companies flee from Brazil,” he says.

“Brazilian internet users will have a second class service compared to Americans or Europeans.

“Websites offering services to Brazilians will have to worry about building a data centre in Brazil.”

Data storage in Brazilian is costly in comparison to both neighbouring countries and the US.

…Critics worry that President Rousseff’s proposed legislation could set a precedent that other countries, with less regard for freedom of speech, might follow.

Former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who coincidently lives in Rio de Janeiro, believes Rousseff’s reaction to the stories published about the National Security Agency is only the tip of the iceberg. “I think a lot of countries are going to start to look for ways in which they don’t have to be dependent on US infrastructure,” he says.

The final draft of the Marco Civil da Internet is due to be voted on this week. And even though it’s unclear whether the stipulation regarding data storage will make it in, the government insists it will find a way to turn it into the law of the land.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi


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