Brazilian Congress overturns Bolsonaro law that favored fake news

Congress of Brazil. Photo EFE

The president of the Brazilian Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco, reported the rejection as unconstitutional of the decree signed a week ago by President Jair Bolsonaro, by which he prohibited the “arbitrary removal” of content from social networks, thus leaving open the possibility to promote “fake news”, according to EFE reports.

This measure was also suspended almost simultaneously by the magistrate of the Supreme Court of Justice, Rosa Weber, in response to a request from the Attorney General of the Nation made the day before, which considered the matter a risk for the dissemination of manipulated news.

The return of the executive decree to the Planalto presidential palace was announced by the Senate's top leader during the plenary session on Tuesday, in which he assured that “the mere processing of the measure (…) is already a factor that threatens performance of the constitutional mission of the National Congress ”.

The decree, which had 60 days to be analyzed in Congress, was rejected less than a week by the upper house after it was sanctioned by the far-right leader to, according to his criteria, guarantee "freedom of expression on social media ”.

With the decision, the measure lost the immediate validity granted by its publication in the Official Gazette and which, in this case, only lasted eight days.

The executive decree sought to end the "arbitrary" removals of content and profiles from social networks, events that have been the subject of even Bolsonaro himself, who has already had publications withdrawn from the internet for containing falsehoods, such as some indications without check for treatments against covid.

The decree intended that the withdrawal of content from social networks would only be given under "just cause" and that affected users could exercise a "broad defense" before any decision was taken.

According to the Government, the removal of content decided only by social networks harms "the public debate of ideas and the exercise of citizenship", thus constituting "a mass violation of fundamental rights and guarantees."

In the document addressed to Bolsonaro, the president of the Senate pointed out that the decree promotes "unexpected changes" in the regulatory framework of the internet in Brazil that give way to "considerable legal insecurity", a premise that had already been warned by the attorney General of the Nation, Augusto Aras, who asked the Supreme Court to suspend the measure on Monday.

Bolsonaro is among those who are investigated by the Supreme Court in a process referred to "attacks on democracy" through social networks, which has led several of his followers to jail.

The detainees are accused of orchestrating anti-democratic acts and of attempting to undermine society's trust in the country's institutions.



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