Discussions about laws are not usually as fast as we would like. In some cases, the standards take years to pass and some time before they start to take effect. In 2020, however, news of changes in legislation and regulators’ decisions circulated at a breakneck pace.
This year, an initiative to combat misinformation on the internet took place around a bill that was hastily approved in the Senate. Meanwhile, in the United States, executives at the tech giants have participated in hearings with lawmakers, who want to enforce laws to avoid a monopoly on companies. Check out 5 remarkable facts about legislation in 2020:
1. The LGPD finally came into force
Something that had been going on for months, finally had a definition. After coming and going on time, the General Data Protection Law (LGPD) began to take effect in September, albeit partially. This is because sanctions for those who break the rules established by law will only be applied from August 2021.
Even so, companies and public bodies must already follow what determines the LGPD. The law gathers rules for data processing and affects pharmacies that ask for your Social Security number in exchange for discounts from social networks. Depending on the purpose, the processing of data by public agencies is also subject to the new regulation.
Among the changes brought with the LGPD is the need for the consent of the holder, except for purposes such as public security. The law also determines that data processing must respect principles such as the purpose, that is, the data subjects must know what their information is being collected for.
After the approval of the law, it was still necessary to define the names of the Directing Council of the National Data Protection Authority (ANPD). The group was nominated by President Jair Bolsonaro and approved by the Senate in October. Of the five members of the first formation of the council, three are military.
2. Congress discussed a law against fake news
A proposal to regulate social networks and messaging applications in an attempt to combat disinformation has advanced in Congress. Bill 2630/2020, known as PL for fake news, passed the Senate amid criticism and is now being analyzed in the Chamber of Deputies.
The text provides for the creation of the Brazilian Law on Freedom, Responsibility and Transparency on the Internet and focuses on measures to be followed by services such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter. The rules, however, were criticized by companies and digital law entities, which pointed out risks to users’ privacy.
The fake news PL will be able to make apps like WhatsApp store records of highly forwarded messages for three months. The rule would not apply to the content of messages, but to metadata, such as the author of the forwarding and the date it happened. The information could be requested with a court order.
Another section of the project may force platforms to request documents from users in case of non-compliance with the rules provided by law; evidence of unidentified automated accounts; evidence of inauthentic accounts; or court order.
Despite having been approved in the Senate, the project is expected to undergo significant changes in 2021. This is because the Chamber is already working on a substitute for the text and may determine a penalty of up to 5 years for those who promote fake news in a coordinated way and make other demands for platforms, such as payment for journalistic content.
3. The banking system advanced with Pix and open banking
This fact of 2020 is not about laws, but about Central Bank resolutions. The banking authority has published two rules that will significantly change the industry landscape. One of them created Pix, an instant payment system that works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with no fees for consumers.
Pix started operating in early November during a test period and, days later, was released to everyone. The system, which carries out transactions in a few seconds, is already used by most consumers. In the first month of full operation, keys were registered by 46 million people, according to BC data.
The other change in the sector has not yet been implemented, but details have been released by the Central Bank. This is open banking (officially the Open Financial System), which transfers control of information from banks to consumers. The idea is to allow the holder to choose how their bank details will be used.
Without open banking, customers who change banks, for example, no longer have access to their account history. The solution planned by the BC will allow these same customers to benefit from migrating the data to another financial institution. The information can also be used in services such as account management apps and for personal credit.
Brazilian open banking will have four regulatory phases to guarantee the protection of customer data and the processing of transactions. This process would begin in November, were it not for the pandemic of the new coronavirus and BC’s focus on Pix. Now, implementation is expected to begin in February 2021 to be completed in December of the same year.
4. Delivery people charged apps like iFood and Rappi
If in 2019, drivers of apps like Uber claimed better working conditions, in 2020 it was the turn of motorcyclists working with platforms like iFood and Rappi. Workers demonstrated to ask for readjustments in payments and discussed bills that affect the category.
One of them, analyzed by the São Paulo City Council, is the PL 130/2019, which requires the use of a red sign and formalization as an individual microentrepreneur (MEI). The project was approved amid controversy due to the version that was on the agenda. In the first round vote, which dealt with the original text, part of the councilors demanded changes before it was taken to the second vote in the House.
The division over the proposal also took place among motoboys. While groups such as the Association of Application and Self-Employed Motorists of Brazil (AMABR) defended the approval of the text, SindimotoSP was against the proposal. Instead, the union wants the approval of PL 578/2019, which also foresees changes in the sector and passed a first round vote in the Chamber in September.
In addition to the bills, the activity of application deliverers was analyzed in court. In 2020, several courts analyzed the relationship of companies that own apps with workers. The actions also dealt with the obligations that the platforms would have with the motorcycle couriers removed due to the pandemic of the new coronavirus.
5. The pressure on big techs has increased
It is possible to say that the technology giants that were not under pressure from some regulator did not live 2020 in its entirety. This year, hearings with CEOs broadcast live, moves by the business division and even threats to ban platforms have made the year of big techs even more busy.
One of the key moments of the year was the audience at which Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, Jeff Bezos and Sundar Pichai had to answer questions from the United States House for hours. Lawmakers accused Facebook of predatory competition, pointed to Apple’s “monopolistic nature”, questioned whether Amazon had an undue advantage over other sellers, and pointed to a theft of content by Google to harm competitors.
A similar situation was repeated months later in a Senate hearing with Zuckerberg, Pichai and Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO. Executives responded to allegations by Republicans of censorship of conservative speeches and, on the part of Democrats, a lack of more energetic action to combat disinformation.
Facebook was sued by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which calls for the sale of Instagram and WhatsApp to prevent the monopoly of Zuckerberg’s company. Meanwhile, Google has been the target of three antitrust lawsuits in the U.S. due to practices considered anti-competitive through its search engine and Android.
TikTok, meanwhile, spent the year under pressure from Donald Trump, who demanded the sale of the operation in the U.S. because of the unsubstantiated claim that the platform poses a risk to the country’s security. ByteDance, owner of the short video social network, even reached an agreement with Oracle and Walmart, but the deal was not completed within the deadlines set by the government.
What to expect from the laws in 2021?
The expectation for 2021 is that the use of LGPD to prevent the improper processing of personal data will become common practice. The law has already served as a basis for some actions, but it could be used by the ANPD to apply sanctions to companies and public bodies. The authority must also regulate several points of the law.
In addition, we should see advances in the implementation of open banking and the outcomes around the PL for fake news. For big techs, the year could also be marked by the creation of a digital tax in the European Union, a measure that has support from countries like France, Spain and Italy.