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Brazil looks to protect privacy and net neutrality with internet bill of rights

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President Rousseff hails the legislation as a victory for human rights, though provision on data storage is dropped

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff signed the "internet constitution" into law on Wednesday
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff signed the "internet constitution" into law on Wednesday
Dilma Rousseff / Flickr

The Brazilian government this week passed new legislation aimed at protecting internet privacy and guaranteeing open access to the web. As the Associated Press reports, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff signed the so-called "internet constitution" into law yesterday before speaking at a conference on web governance in Sao Paulo, where she hailed the legislation as critical to protecting human rights and net neutrality.

"The internet you want is only possible in an environment of respect for human rights," Rousseff said in a statement on her website, "especially privacy and freedom of expression."

Rousseff's boldest proposal is dropped

Rousseff has been an outspoken advocate for internet privacy after it was revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) had been eavesdropping on her telephone calls and emails. According to documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the US had also been conducting surveillance on Petrobas, Brazil's state-owned oil company. In response, Rousseff pushed for an amendment to the law that would have required US internet companies to store their data on Brazilian users on servers located within the country's borders, but that provision was dropped from the version passed Wednesday, after it was deemed too difficult to implement.

But the law does hold American web companies subject to Brazilian law in cases involving domestic users, and includes a net neutrality provision that bars internet providers from charging more for data-heavy services. Known as the Marco Civil da Internet, the law also establishes limits on the metadata that can be collected on Brazilian users and clears service providers of liability for content published by its customers, though it does require companies to remove content under court orders.