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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro plans to denounce tech titans at the G-20 summit and at the United Nations (UN) in the face of censorship suffered by conservatives around the world. According to sources in Planalto, the Brazilian leader will raise measures to confront Big Tech from the highest podiums in the world. The companies, known for their censorship and hostility towards conservatives, have also applied these measures on the Brazilian public.
O Globo reports that one of the reasons that motivated Bolsonaro to push this initiative was the suspension of his then counterpart Donald Trump from the most important social networking platforms (Twitter, Facebook and YouTube). The Brazilian president’s goal is to reduce the influence of large technology companies on “public debate, elections and democracy in general.”
“The government wants to bring to the debate the argument that social networks, although private, are confused with the public space,” reports O Globo. For this reason, it continues, “they should be subject to national legislation and constitutional guarantees, such as freedom of expression and free association.” In this sense, Bolsonaro has quite well-founded concerns.
Last week, TIME magazine revealed the informal alliance between Big Tech and the American left to prevent Donald Trump from being re-elected. This implies that the big tech companies not only decide who has a say, but also have power over the votes (in El American we explain how this infamous compromise was hatched).
President Bolsonaro’s idea is to present three proposed resolutions, according to O Globo:
- The first will condemn the suspension of Trump and any other elected official;
- The second will recognize social networks as “public goods” with an impact on the political process and proposes measures to prevent the companies that control these networks from “distorting public debate with interventions to silence voices and censor issues;”
- The third draft resolution, on the other hand, suggests that Big Tech assume its position within two possible regimes: as a media and debate forum, with minimal interference guided by local laws; or as a journalism company responsible for its editorial line and content curation.
Brazil versus Big Tech
These efforts, however, are not limited to Bolsonaro. His caucus in the Brazilian Congress intends to enact laws limiting the power of Big Tech. Federal Deputy Daniel Silveira presented, together with seven other parliamentarians, Bill 291/2021, which promotes a fine to tech titans and suspends the right to operate in Brazil for 90 days.
Talking to the media Terça Livre, congressman Silveira commented that the reason for this bill is to fight against the censorship of these large companies and that in no way can the violation of freedom of expression be tolerated.
“They have a contract within a country with legal regulations in force and they literally ignore it. Mainly our Constitution which expressly guarantees freedom of expression. So this cannot be tolerated in any way,” said Silveira.
Congressman Silveira also claimed to have spoken with President Bolsonaro, who expressed his support for the project:
“We have already spoken with the President, who promptly said he will ask for constitutional urgency to guarantee freedom of expression. There can only be a block in the case of a court order if the publication incurs a de facto crime.”Congressman Silveira
The congressman claimed to be prepared ahead of the 2022 elections in case Big Tech wants to repeat what they did in the USA. “It may be that in 2022 they act in a geopolitical or internal political way, disrupting the electoral process,” he said. “As happened in the United States.”
The bill is also authored by Congressmen Eduardo Bolsonaro, Filipe Barros, Carlos Jordy, Luiz Philippe de Orleans, Chris Tonietto, among others.
Rafael Valera, Venezuelan, student of Political Science, political exile in São Paulo, Brazil since 2017 // Rafael Valera, venezolano, es estudiante de Ciencias Políticas y exiliado político en São Paulo, Brasil desde 2017