Project wants to punish those who promote fake news with up to 5 years in prison | Legislation

The Chamber of Deputies moved forward with the initiative to make changes to the so-called PL for fake news (bill 2630/2020). Congressman Orlando Silva (PCdoB-SP) presented the preliminary version of the new text to the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Rodrigo Maia (DEM-RJ), who will define when the agenda will be voted. Among the changes in the text, available on this link, is the provision of a penalty of up to 5 years in prison for those who promote fake news in a coordinated manner.

The project criminalizes the act of promoting, constituting or integrating, directly or indirectly, a coordinated action for “mass shooting of messages that convey content liable to criminal sanction or facts known to be untrue that could endanger life, physical and mental integrity. , the safety of people, and the health of the electoral process ”. The text includes in this practice the use of robots and other means not offered by the platforms.

With the approval of the project, those convicted of organized actions of disinformation would be subject to a penalty of 1 to 5 years, in addition to a fine. The prediction of a penalty for members of groups that disseminate fake news represents an extension to the version of the bill approved in June in the Senate, which establishes penalties only for social networks and messaging applications.

The new version maintains the section that determines a warning and a fine of up to 10% in Brazil for platforms that breach its rules. The amount of the fine would be defined based on factors such as the seriousness of the infringement, the recurrence and the company’s economic capacity. The amounts would be destined to the Ministry of Education to be used in media education projects.

New requirements for platforms

Another change is the prediction that platforms like Google and Facebook will have to pay to use journalistic content. The rule would not prevent users from sharing links. Silva told the newspaper The globe that the idea is to encourage professional journalism against disinformation. Details on how payments would be made do not appear in the draft project.

The text also forbids platforms from maintaining unidentified automated accounts and serving content driven without information on who made the payment. In electoral periods, in addition to identifying the advertiser, companies would also be required to provide data such as amount paid and target audience for advertisements related to candidates, coalitions or parties.

Project wants to punish those who promote fake news with up to 5 years in prison (Photo: Waldemir Barreto / Agência Senado - 07/08/2020)

For the new version of the project, platforms would start presenting transparency reports every six months. The documents would be made available on the companies’ websites and would have information such as the number of users of the service, as well as the number of moderation actions due to violations of their terms of use or court orders.

The reports would be analyzed by the Internet Transparency and Accountability Council. The group would have, among other points, the task of forwarding indications of violations of the law to the Public Prosecutor’s Office or to the Electoral Justice. The council would be formed by 17 unpaid people from different sectors of society, being:

  • 1 Senate representative
  • 1 representative of the Chamber of Deputies
  • 1 representative of the National Council of Justice
  • 1 representative of the National Council for the Public Prosecution
  • 1 representative of the Internet Steering Committee in Brazil (
  • 5 civil society representatives
  • 3 representatives of internet service providers, applications and content
  • 2 representatives of the media sector
  • 2 representatives from the academy and technical community

In addition to the council, the platforms would have a sector self-regulatory body, such as Conar (National Advertising Self-Regulation Council). It would serve to develop a code of conduct to be followed by platforms in decisions to moderate content and would have a complaints service about improper practices in services.

WhatsApp message tracking

One of the most controversial points in the PL version of fake news approved in the Senate is the prediction that apps like WhatsApp should store records such as the date and the author of messages that have been routed. The Chamber considers changing the section to release the tracking only under judicial authorization for “purposes of constituting evidence” in ongoing investigations.

With the change, the tracking would occur as in wiretapping, where information is obtained only after authorization – and not preventively, as in the Senate version. The rule present in the new Chamber project prevents the tracking of message records in cases of “generic orders” or “outside the scope and technical limits” of the platforms.

Messaging apps would also be required, by law, to provide means for users to protect their privacy, including features to control “receiving messages sent in bulk” and rejecting inclusion in groups.

The changes in the PL of fake news started to be elaborated after the official version of the text was approved in the Senate even with criticism from companies and entities of digital law. If the new version is approved by the Chamber, it will need to be returned to the senators’ analysis. If it is also approved in the Senate, the proposal goes to the sanction of President Jair Bolsonaro.

With information: Folha de S.Paulo, Poder360.

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