Monthly Archives: February 2014

Brazilian Congress to vote on mandatory storage of personal data in Internet

The Bill known as “Internet Civil Rights Framework” (Marco Civil da Internet in Portuguese)   seems ready to be voted in the Parliament’s lower house this week. Besides a handful  of polemic measures regarding issues as net neutrality, the Bill proposes a very strict obligation to Internet sites: they must keep a log of their access and usage for the last six months.

This piece of legislation would make mandatory the retention of personal data – not only for the connection provider (which would be constricted to keep records of the whole last year of connections according to art. 14 of the Bill), but this time for the so-called ‘application provider’.

This measure is present in article 16 of the last version of the Bill:

Art. 16. The legal entity who acts as a provider of Internet applications and who exercises its activity in an organized, professional and pursuing profit, shall keep the records of  access to its Internet applications, in secret and in a secure and controlled environment, for a period of six months, according to the terms to be set forth by further regulation.

This measure not only contradicts all previous versions of the Bill (which is a work in progress started by a draft generated by a public consultation in 2010). It establishes an unprecedented  duty to all “for profit” Brazilian Internet players who run a site or service to keep private information of their users for 6 months, regardless of any consideration about their users’ consent.

Even if the Bill mention protection measures for the data owners, it is clear that the simple fact of the existence of the mandatory personal data register is, ‘per se’, a danger that users cannot avoid since their free consent would be not taken into account. Moreover, the lack of a general framework for personal data protection makes the whole environment at least very prone to the misuse of personal information.

Several Brazilian NGO’s and Civil Society organisations stressed this week their concerns regarding this issue.

[UPDATE 24 february] The voting was postponed to next week (around February 25)

[UPDATE 17 march] Congress is yet to vote the Bill. Last week, PMDB (a political party that is part of the governing coalition but has his own views on the Marco Civil Bill) presented an alternative version for Marco Civil [available here]. Its main points are: (i) Net Neutrality isn’t mandatory; (ii) data centres of Internet companies  won’t  have to be located in Brazil; (iii) Brazilian Telecommunicarion’s Agency (ANATEL) would draft the exceptions to net neutrality.

Brazil monitors protests against the 2014 World Cup

On the eve of the World Cup, Brazil monitors potential protesters through social networks and communications’ media.

In 2013 Brazilian society aroused in social manifestations worldly broadcasted as the Brazilian Autumn in reference to the Arab Spring. The president Dilma Roussef gave even a public manifesto of support to the democratic demonstrations.

During the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil, civil protests took place through out several cities of the country. They were ongoing public demonstrations of dissatisfaction, first advocating against public transportation fare rise. Later, growing to include other economic, political and social issues.

The Confederations Cup has long ended and the 2014 World Cup is still a few months ahead. Nevertheless, protests continue with slogans as such: “There Will Be no World Cup”.

The public support of the protests now grow as fear of a social disrupt at the eyes of the international community, specially with the action of the group “Black Blocs” combating police force and breaking the tone of the peaceful riots.

With the awake of Brazlian society it is also known authorities have been monitoring social media communications, used advances technology to locate protesters’ computers and, even, infiltrated the movement to gather more precise information, accordingly to an anonymous official.

The protests’ repression were characterized by violent repression, with strong images of injures citizens, journalists, policemen and even tourists. In adition to the use of force, the Army’s Center for Cyber Defense has used a software known as “Guardian” to monitor communications related to the riots. The information collected was reported to the Federal Police, the security secretariat of cities involved in riots and the Federal Public Prosecutor.

Guardian”, software from the Brazilian Tech company “Dígitro”, monitors voice and data and is very similar to the technology used by the North American National Security Agency (NSA). Accordingly to General José Carlos dos Santos from the Army’s Center for Cyber Defense the monitoring is legal and justifies itself within national security policies and actions. He also claims the software is adapted and customized by the user and didn’t monitor a unknown generality of citizens, being used only during the 2013 Confederations Cup.

The media office at Brazil’s SESGE, a division of the Minitry of Justice charged with the World Cup security, referred questions about government surveillance initiatives to the Ministry of Defense, which declined comment, accordingly to Reuters.