SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazil’s government is studying whether to regulate online platforms for monetized content such as advertising, digital policy secretary Joao Brant said on Friday.
The idea would be for regulators to hold such platforms, not consumers, accountable for monetized content, Brant told Reuters.
Another goal is to “prevent networks from being used to spread and promote crime and illegal content” especially after the riots by supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro in Brasilia in January, which was caused by incorrect information about the election he lost. October.
Brant said the government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva intends to make companies responsible for stopping false information, hate speech and other crimes on social media. Platforms will not be held responsible for content per se, but for how diligently they protect the “digital environment,” he said in an interview.
Brant did not specify what the regulatory body would look like, but said the government wants to regulate monetized content and prevent platforms from spreading false information.
“What the organization can do is to monitor whether the platforms fulfill their obligations properly, and not talk about each content published by users. That should be in the courts,” he said.
Brant did not specify the role that judges will play in combating misinformation.
Any proposal would require changes to the regulatory framework in the 2014 law known as the “Marco Civil” that governs the internet in Brazil and protects users’ rights.
Article 19 of the law exempts platforms from legal liability for “damages arising from content produced by third parties”, unless there is a specific court order to remove the content.
For Brant, the current draft “makes the forums less of a public space for debate.”
The lack of accountability for content that is promoted, monetized or presented as advertising should be reconsidered, he said, adding: “For them not to be responsible for that content is very bad.”
The Brazilian Supreme Court has been debating the constitutionality of Article 19 since 2017, based on a case filed by Meta Platforms Inc Meta, the owner of Facebook and WhatsApp.
Meta questioned its obligation to remove content without a court order in a case involving a fake Facebook profile. The court scheduled a public hearing on the matter on March 28.
(This story has been refiled to be corrected by the written line)
(Reporting by Victor Pinheiro, Debora Ely and Bernardo Barbosa; Editing by David Gregorio)