Fake news PL: report limits government internet advertising | Legislation

After criticism of risks to freedom of expression, the PL of the fake news could return to the Senate agenda on Tuesday (23). Now, the discussion involves the new version of Senator Angelo Coronel’s report (PSD-BA). The document, to which the Tecnoblog had access, is available at this link and includes, among other points, a restriction for advertising by public agencies on the internet.

Senator Angelo Coronel (PSD-BA), rapporteur of the PL of fake news (Photo: Leopoldo Silva / AgĂȘncia Senado - 06/02/2020)

Senator Angelo Coronel (PSD-BA), rapporteur of the fake news PL

The report of the PL 2630/2020 states that the public administration should avoid displaying advertisements on websites and social media accounts that “promote acts of incitement to violence against a person or group because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, origin, religion or political preference”. The text also indicates that public agencies should collect on their websites the expenses with advertising on the internet, as well as the data of the contracted companies.

For platforms, the report states that advertising aimed at users in Brazil can only be acquired by people and companies that are in the country. In the case of electoral advertising, social networks such as Facebook and Instagram may be required to offer a tool with advertisements made by each candidate, party or coalition, in addition to details such as broadcast time and target audience.

Even with fewer articles than the original version, the report maintains some rules that were criticized. Among them, there is the requirement for users to provide their identity document and cell phone number to create an account on social networks and messaging applications. The document also requires that platforms limit the number of accounts linked to the same cell phone.

There is also a requirement for apps like WhatsApp and Telegram to limit the number of message forwards and group participants, as is already the case. In addition, applications must store the message forwarding chain for at least four months. Data may be requested by court order.

New sanctions and extended penalties

The fake news PL report maintains the possibility of suspending activities in Brazil from platforms that violate the rules, but changes the amount of fines to up to 10% of the company’s annual revenue in Brazil (before, the report predicted fines of up to R $ 10 billion). The amount will be destined to digital education actions of the Fund for Maintenance and Development of Basic Education and of Valorization of Education Professionals (Fundeb).

The text also prohibits advertising on the Internet with content manipulated to ridicule candidates or to jeopardize the credibility of the elections. If the proposal becomes law, the practice could lead to a fine of R $ 50 thousand to R $ 10 million. The candidate who is proven to participate in the practice or knows and does not communicate to the authorities may have forfeited his participation in the elections.

The new version of the report also begins to criminalize the financing of slander, injury, defamation, threat or prejudice on the internet. The proposal also includes in the Penal Code the crime of operating robots or artificial distribution networks that are not identified as such in social networks and messaging apps.

Internet Transparency and Accountability Council

If the report is approved and becomes law, Congress will create the Transparency and Accountability Council on the Internet. The group would have the mission of carrying out studies, opinions and recommendations to parliamentarians, in addition to promoting debates to define misinformation on the internet. The council would consist of 15 members, with the following provision:

  • 1 from the Senate;
  • 1 from the Chamber of Deputies;
  • 1 from the National Council of Justice (CNJ);
  • 1 from the National Council of the Public Ministry (CNMP);
  • 1 from the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee (CGI.br);
  • 3 from civil society;
  • 2 from the academic sector;
  • 2 from internet service providers, applications and content;
  • 2 from the media sector;
  • 1 in the telecommunications sector.

The previous version foresaw an 11-member council. In addition to expanding the group, the new report removes vacancies foreseen for the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations, the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, the National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) and the Federal Police. To become a law, the PL report on fake news must be approved by the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies and be sanctioned by the President of the Republic.

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