By Marília Maciel and Bruno Magrani*
The vote on the report of the “Marco Civil da Internet” (Brazilian Framework for the Internet), scheduled for yesterday, July 10th, was postponed. In an interview, the rapporteur, Deputy Alessandro Molon, said the postponing was due to the big number of suggestions received on the last days from society and government. A text published by the internet portal Teletime states that the government is uncomfortable with some points of the present report:
“basically, the position consolidated by the government on last Friday, 6, on a meeting at the Civil House with representatives from various Ministries, was that the power attributed by Molon’s proposal to the Comitê Gestor da Internet [Internet Management Committee, CGI] would be exaggerated”.
According to a report presented by Deputy Alessandro Molon, CGI should have a role on the “elaboration of recommendations to the proper delimitation of the permitted cases on discrimination and degradation of traffic” “notwithstanding the institucional mission of the competent State Ministries and the National Telecommunications Agency” (our emphasis).
Foremost, it’s important to emphasize that Deputy’s Alessandro Molon report doesn’t bring any innovation on the nowadays CGI.br’s competences. According to the resolution that created the “Comitê Gestor da Internet”, the “proposition of norms and proceedings related to internet activities regulation” and the “recommendation of patterns and proceedings related to technical operations for the internet in Brazil” (our emphasis) are under CGI’s responsibility.
In other words, the suggestion made on Deputy Molon’s report only consolidates and explains a partnership that should be established – and has been established in practice – between CGI and the Government for the discussion of themes that have been in a gray zone between telecommunications and Internet, in a manner that CGI still keeps it’s advisory role.
The reinforcement of CGI’s role on the neutrality debate is extremely appropriate, at least for three reasons.
On the first place, the discussion about neutrality on the Civil Framework for the Internet focuses on the logical network layer, which is placed a layer “above” the telecommunication infrastructure layer. It is true that the principle of equality on the telecommunication layer has been present on Anatel’s policies (see BRT-Oi agreement), but it’s also true that neutrality on the telecommunications layer doesn’t ensure that it’ll be neutrality on the logical layer (that is, when we move from hertz and megahertz to data packets).
There is a main difference between equality in the treatment of competing telephone companies, that are already present on Anatel’s regulation – and that is applied to infrastructure – and equality on the logical part, which is represented by net neutrality on the Civil Framework. Infrastructural equality refers to the rates for interconnection networks. That is, for a call to move from X Provider’s network to Y Provider’s network, one must pay the other for it. The equality says that the charge must be the same for every provider and there should not be refusal when contracting with a specific provider. This debate should not be confused with net neutrality on the logical layer, with the package traffic neutrality.
Net neutrality aims to ensure that any person or company, no matter how small its budget, can send and receive packages without being subject to differentiation that could affect its capability to compete with other established companies. The concern is to keep low entrance barriers on the Internet market to allow network innovation. Internet operates on the data packages layer, CGI’s scope of excellence, which should act proposing norms and patterns to the relevant public bodies, according to the mandate it is given.
On the second place, CGI.br consolidates a model of democratic, participative and multistakeholder management of the Internet, which has no match in any other country. When the Brazilian government created CGI.br and gave it a multistekeholder Council, it showed that it believes that better Internet regulation and policies can only be elaborated when every sector involved on the functioning and use of the internet is participating of the process. This belief was reinforced on the collaborative way that the Civil Framework for the Internet was made, and it has been the axis of the Brazilian position in international forums. To involve CGI.br, under clear and structured procedures, on the discussion of Internet neutrality is to contribute with better practices and policies.
On the third place, the necessity to involve CGI on the discussion of neutrality is accentuated by the fact that, internationally, the neutrality theme and the frontiers between telecommunications and Internet will be discussed on a big conference, which will happen on UIT at the end of the year. Brazil is one of the countries that are advocating it is necessary to open the procedures of the Conference, beyond transparency requests and the publicity of the preparation documents, so that there is a greater multistakeholder involvement. The internal dialogue between the Government and CGI can contribute to a more solid and legitimate Brazilian position at the Conference and at other permanent forums. Beyond that, it would do justice to the positive image internationally raised by the country with CGI’s multistakeholder governance model.
* This text exclusively reflects the author’s positions and it doesn’t’ reflect the opinion of any partners or supporters of this project.
Translation by Giovanna Carloni