On June 30, 2020, Brazil’s Senate approved the “PLS 2630/2020” bill, also known as the “Fake News” Bill. 

Fake News Bill in Brazil

The bill was created with the intention of curbing fake news. However, many citizens are worried about the implications it will have on their online security and privacy.

After looking at some of the key points of the bill, it makes sense why they are concerned!

Keep reading to find out about the key aspects of the bill and its implications on the future online lives of Brazilians!

Mandatory Data Collection of Chain Communications

Regardless of whether the content they forward is malicious or not, social networks and internet providers are required to store all communications that have been forwarded. The providers will then be required to save this information for 4 months!

Shows how chain messages can spread exponentially. This is an issue when dealing with messages with fake news.

Storing this data also means foregoing current protections such as end-to-end encryption to keep conversations private. 

What many people fear about this rule is that it could easily be misused for political purposes. For example, the massive databases storing messages could be used to find out who journalists’ sources are or prevent community gatherings for protests. It poses a risk to both free speech and free press. 

Jail Time for Content that Poses Risk to “Social Peace”

Those who create or share content that poses a risk to “social peace or the economic order” can face anywhere from 1 to 5 years in prison. However, the bill does not further explain what would classify as a risk to “social peace or the economic order.”

Many people’s worry comes from the vagueness of the bill. Without knowing what classifies as a disruption of social peace, it’s hard to know what’s ok to say and what is now illegal to say online. 

High Fines for Mocking Electoral Candidates

The bill also bars creating or sharing “manipulated” content that mocks electoral candidates. 

Brazil plans on enforcing this rule by having a judge determine who “benefitted” from the ridicule. The ‘benefiter’ will then have to pay a fine of up to 10 million Brazilian Reais, or about $1.9 million. 

This rule would pretty much ban satire, irony, and memes during elections – a major infringement of free speech rights.

Implications of Brazil “Fake News” Bill

Due to concerns raised by citizens and human rights activists, the senate made some major changes to the bill. The current version is actually the fourth version of the bill!

Initially, the bill also required a valid ID and cell phone number to create a social media account.  This would make it harder for someone to use a pseudonym and remain anonymous online. Although, due to major backlash, the senate removed this rule from the bill.

However, even with such changes, the key aspects of the bill listed earlier still pose a serious threat to Brazilian’s online privacy and freedom of speech. 

Now that the bill has passed in the senate, it will move on to Congress. If Congress votes to pass the bill, then it will be up to President Jair Bolsonaro to decide whether to pass or veto the bill.

We will keep you updated as we find out more about the Brazil “fake news” bill!

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