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Brazil passes first ever Internet bill of rights in run up to NETmundial

Brazil recently passed a piece of legislation that sets out the individual rights for citizens who use the Internet.

Because the Internet is so new, there are still a number of issues that need to be sorted out. Social media giants like Twitter are less than a decade old, while the face of journalism and media as a whole continues to adapt to the online age. While these rapid changes are certainly exciting for all parties involved, it also creates a certain level of ambiguity that is creating problems when it comes to individual rights.

Numerous governments have leveraged the Internet to effectively increase their control over citizens. For instance, the United States National Security Administration has used the massive amounts of data on the Internet and its own surveillance capabilities to collect massive amounts of information about online users both at home and abroad. In other countries, such as Iran and China, entire portions of the Internet are blocked because the governments disagree with the nature of the content.

A global network
The Internet is one of the few truly global technologies that citizens can use simultaneously. With the infringements growing increasingly concerning, numerous parties have suggested potential solutions to these problems.

Recently, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff signed in a new law that will aim to protect online privacy and and treat the Internet as a sort of public utility by promoting "net neutrality," according to the Associated Press. Known as the Internet "Bill of Rights" this is one of the first piece of legislation of its kind in that it specifically addresses the rights of users online. The news source noted that the bill deems Internet communications inviolable and secret, and will require that email can only be read by senders and their recipients.

However, one of the provisions would require that Internet service providers store user data for half a year and provide it to law enforcement officials if a court approves. This could lead to violations of privacy if not properly regulated.

The bill was passed in the run up to the NETmundial conference, which will host a number of governments and other Internet groups to discuss the future of Internet governance. Along with issues of privacy, control over ICANN, the nonprofit that controls Internet traffic, will be another major topic of discussion, according to Reuters. NETmundial opened on April 23.

The implementation of the bill remains to be seen, but its passing certainly marks an interesting development especially with realm of world Internet governance converging on Brazil.

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