STF must regulate networks if Congress does not act – 05/02/2023

The Federal Supreme Court consolidates the view that social networks need to be regulated in Brazil. Most ministers prefer Congress to impose respect for the Constitution and laws on digital conglomerates. But some of the main justices of the Supreme Court already privately admit that the regulation of the networks must be imposed by the Judiciary if the Congress fails to legislate on the matter.

This Tuesday, while the deputies disagreed on the appreciation of the so-called Fake News PL in the Chamber, Supreme Minister Alexandre de Moraes leaned the Federal Police on Google and other platforms that have launched in recent days a campaign against the proposal that leads to the Penal Code into social networks. In his order, Moraes signaled, so to speak, the Court’s intention to act with energy to impose the removal of criminal content circulating on the internet.

Here is what Alexandre de Moraes noted at a certain point: “It is urgent, reasonable and necessary to define – LEGISLATIVE and/or JUDICIAL [maiúsculas do ministro]-, the terms and limits of joint and several civil and administrative liability of companies; as well as possible criminal liability of those responsible for their administration.” The minister reiterated the obvious: “Social networks are not land without law”, they “are no man’s land.”

Moraes set a five-day deadline for the PF to question the leaders from Google, the Meta group, Spotify and Brasil Paralelo on the use of digital tools to boost the dissemination of advertising and untrue messages about the proposed regulation of networks. Abuse of economic power and deliberate spread of misinformation are suspected. Companies were also summoned to provide clarifications to the Supreme Court within 48 hours.

The big techs, as network managers are called, take time to realize something elementary. Economic groups that do not aspire to profit miss the target. But conglomerates that seek profit at any cost, including monetizing crime, have seen the target. Anyone who opposes such an elementary requirement as the removal of criminal content that intoxicates social networks ends up becoming an accomplice in delinquency.

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