By Jeferson Ribeiro
BRASILIA, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Brazil is pushing ahead withlegislation that would force global Internet companies such asGoogle and Facebook to keep data on Brazilian users inside thecountry, despite opposition from the companies and in Congress.
A draft bill made public on Tuesday would grant PresidentDilma Rousseff decree powers to order companies to set up datacenters in Brazil to store personal information on their usersas a way of curbing U.S. spying.
In-country data storage was proposed by Rousseff followingrevelations that the U.S. National Security Agency monitored heremails and phone calls, along with those of average Braziliancitizens and other foreign leaders.
Even the bill's author is uncertain, however, whether thedata storage provision will survive debate and make it into law.
"It could get dropped from the law," Alessandro Molon, ofRousseff's ruling Worker's Party, told journalists.
If the provision does pass Congress, where it is opposed bythe PMDB, the country's largest party and a Rousseff ally, itwould still require a presidential decree to force Internetcompanies to store data in Brazil.
The measure was added to an existing bill aimed atprotecting the rights and privacy of Brazilian Internet usersthat has been dubbed Brazil's "Internet Constitution."
Rousseff requested tougher legislation to protect personaldata and curb exposure to U.S. electronic surveillance, and sheurged Congress to rush its approval, Molon said.
"The president wants this voted on as soon as possible tohave a law that protects Brazil's 100 million Internet users,"he said.
The revelations of U.S. spying, based on documents leaked byformer NSA contractor Edward Snowden, caused a furor in Braziland were followed by reports that Internet companies might havegiven the U.S. agency access to data, an allegation thecompanies deny.
The local storage requirement is opposed by companies suchas Google and Facebook, which say it wouldincrease their costs and erect unnecessary barriers in what issupposed to be a frontier-free World Wide Web.
As drafted, the new legislation would impact the way Google,Facebook, Twitter and other Internet giants operate in LatinAmerica's biggest country and one of the world's largesttelecommunications markets.
Government officials contend that in-country storage ofpersonal data on Brazilian users is legally necessary to makesure the information is subject to Brazil's laws and availableto local courts in lawsuits involving privacy and libel.
Internet companies, they say, have refused to provideinformation in court arguing that it was stored elsewhere.
The legislation includes another controversial requirement - net neutrality - which is opposed by telecom companies inBrazil because it would bar them from introducing differentialpricing according to Internet usage and download speeds.
- Politics & Government
- Internet companies