The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) recommends that a new bill in Brazil to combat fake news should be debated in depth and include the opinions of press associations specialised in the subject in order to ensure that the right to freedom of expression in the digital space is guaranteed.
IAPA supported the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (ABRAJI) and 46 civil society organisations that spoke out against the bill (PL 2.630 / 2020 – Brazilian Law of Freedom, Responsibility and Transparency on the Internet) and promoted that broad debate take place. Faced with criticism, the Senate on Thursday postponed for the third time, the vote on the proposed law that will be addressed as the only item on the agenda on June 30.
IAPA President Christopher Barnes, while acknowledging the global challenge and inherent harm in purveyance of misinformation, said the organisation considers that, as indicated by the Declaration of Salta in its 10th principle, disinformation “must not be combated with censorship mechanisms or criminal sanctions, but rather with the adoption of policies on news and digital literacy”.
The ‘Fake News Bill’ as it is known, contemplates obligations for the mass identification of Internet users, linking the opening of accounts to a valid identification document and an active mobile number, and forcing private messaging applications to store data of traceability for messages exchanged. It makes it a crime to create or share content that could pose a serious risk to “social peace or economic order” and punishes offenders with between one and five years in prison.