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[Interview] Guilherme Almeida de Almeida, Brazil

BRASILIA (Diplo) - Crowdsourcing being used by the government to enact a new law? This innovative approach is being taken in Brazil and Guilherme Almeida de Almeida (Diplo IGCBP 2006 Alumnus) tells how this may prevent a "vigilante" approach towards ISPs in Brazil.

DIPLO IGCBP: Guilherme, what are you doing today professionally?

GUILHERME: I am now working at the Ministry of Justice, at the Secretariat for Legislative Affairs. My main attribution is a project which aims do draft colaboratively a civil law statute for Brazilian internet.

This discussion arised after some intense discussions at Brazilian Legislative Branch. A proposed bill of law intended to define several internet crimes in quite a broad manner, which would most presumably generate several negative side effects for internet users in general. Further to that, the bill intended to create some obligations to service providers that could force them to a "vigilante" approach (such as keeping the logs of any connection for at least 3 years, compulsorily denouncing any potential breach of law they might have been aware of committed through the use of their services, etc.)

DIPLO IGCBP: And how was this proposal perceived by the local community?

GUILHERME: A great buzz on the internet was caused by that project, and thousands of people have participated in seminars, conferences and signed petitions against it. One of the main arguments raised by those against the law is the idea that criminal law should always stand as a "ultima ratio" - a last resource, to be employed only after all further legal means of avoiding undesirable conducts would have failed. Therefore, it would be quite more useful to have a civil law statute which could clearly determine rights, obligations and responsibilities within the web in the place of a "all forbiden/no privacy" criminal statute.

DIPLO IGCBP: Can you explain in more details how this statute would work?

GUILHERME: As for the topics for the statute, so far, we have 3 main aims: (1) to reinforce and clearly state some users´ fundamental rights (and to have them minimally regulated to the extent necessary to ensure their protection); (2) to have a clear limit of liability for internet providers (service, content, and application), as well for internet users in general, to be applied by Brazilian judges whenever a case arrives (the lack of such clear boundaries has frequently led court decisions over similar matters to have far different outcomes; such lack of prevision about liabilities is a potential hinder to any innovative entrepreneurs), and (3) to have some guidelines about internet use and deployment in a law level, so as to ensure the government will have internal coherence in any further infra-legal regulations which might be necessary.

DIPLO IGCBP: Is this where the "crowdsourcing" will enter?

GUILHERME: Yes. The real innovation, from a Brazilian legal drafting standpoint, is in the process of such drafting. Our goal is to start the project with a crowdsourcing: we are creating a blog which will host an initial proposition with a context to the debate and some ideas about the main topics we intend to discuss. Each and every paragraph will be open to comments on a sidebar, in a format similar to this website - http://thepublicindex.org/archives/category/settlement/s-1

This process of discussion about ideas approximately 45 days. We intend to follow the process through a blog in the same website, in which we would not only narrate the process and determine clearly its guidelines, but also analyze, reprocess and republish further developments of the crowdsourced ideas.

After that initial period, we shall have a brief intermission, in which we will consolidate the main ideas into a bill of law, within the government.

Afterwards, such bill of law will be also submitted to public consultation in the same format, also for 45 days.

Once this new contributions phase has ended, we will consolidate again the bill of law upon such collaborations, and then send it to the regular legislative process at the Brazilian Congress. By then, however, we expect to have formulated a quite more consensual bill, with great public support, so we expect that the bill will have a faster track until its final approval.

I am working in this project with our crew from the Ministry of Justice. An important participant and co-sponsor of this initiative is the Center for Technology and Society – CTS, of Getulio Vargas Foundation School of Law, Rio de Janeiro. We also have a technical and logistical support from Ministry of Culture, which portal www.culturadigital.br - a social network proposed in order to discuss digital and cultural government policies - will host the blog and discussions.

As for the timeline, the project will be officially launched in October 29, in Rio. We shall then have the 45-days initial discussions, a 15-30 days for initial drafting of the bill of law, and a further 45-days discussion on the bill.

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Comment by Guilherme Almeida de Almeida on October 15, 2009 at 3:55pm
I can be reached at guialmeida@gmail.com in case you need further information on the process! tks!

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