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New cyber crime bills threaten Brazilian Internet User Digital Rights

UPDATE: April 27th vote on the topic was postponed to Tuesday, May 3rd.

Brazil is currently going through tumultuous times—delays in its preparation for the Olympics, attempts to stop the spread of the Zika virus, the likely impeachment of embattled President Dilma Rousseff. But a lesser-known scandal is developing right now in the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies which is set to vote on several bills introduced after a report by the Brazilian Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry on Cybercrimes (CPICIBER), bills which would severely impact freedom of expression and privacy in the South American nation.


The CPICIBER was created innocuously enough in July 2015 to investigate cyber crimes in Brazil and provide recommendations on how to defend against those to protect the Brazilian economy and society. However, after intense pressure from panicked politicians and other stakeholders, the report proposed a wide range of repressive recommendations that would stifle the privacy of Brazilians online. 


Some of these measures would grant police warrantless access to IP addresses and require websites and apps to monitor user content and take down anything considered “offensive.” It would allow judges to block sites and apps that are either used for criminal activities or don’t comply with demands for user information. There is also a danger of a broad legal interpretation of powers, as these proposals aim to criminalize improper computer system access that presents a “risk of misuse or disclosure” of data, even if no misuses or disclosure have occurred—vague terminology that can be applied even to actions without criminal intent. This ambiguous language may act as a deterrent for legitimate security research if it requires prior permission to proceed legally. 


Campaigns are being organized across the country to pressure members of the CPICIBER to reconsider these bills. While these measures are being discussed in the legislature, there are some important steps Brazilians can take: 


Get a VPN VPNs (Virtual Privacy Networks) are used to secure and encrypt your communications, which will help protect your information and location by hiding your IP address, making it seem as if you were in another place. When you connect to your VPN, your computer exchanges trusted keys with a distant server. Once both sides have been verified, you can proceed as normal, knowing that all of your internet communication is safe and secure from eavesdropping. It is imperative, however, to use a VPN provider such as NordVPN that does not store data or communication logs.

Connect via Proxy Another option is a proxy, which, like a VPN, directs your communications through another computer, effectively hiding your true location. However, depending on the type of proxy used, it may not provide adequate stability or reliability. Also, Proxy services do not offer adequate encryption. 

Use the Tor Network Tor (The Onion Router) is a service created to allow users to anonymously browse the internet. This decentralized system, initially created in conjunction with the U.S. Navy, lets users connect through a network of relays instead of the conventional direct connection, bouncing around your connect from server to server, which allows your IP to be hidden.


How do you feel about the new bills being considered in Brazil? What other steps might be useful in the fight to protect online privacy? Let us know in the comments below.


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