Senator Expedito Júnior to withdraw proposed law punishing “damage to reputation” online

Senator Expedito Júnior to withdraw proposed law punishing “damage to reputation” online

Reporters Without Borders today welcomed the decision by Senator
Expedito Júnior to withdraw a law he put forward in December 2007,
which would have increased prison sentences for press offences
committed online.

The federal senator for Rondônia in western
Brazil restated his commitment to press freedom in an open letter
published today in the daily O Estado de São Paulo.


He said in the letter that the objective of his draft law had
been to prevent a proliferation of blogs and websites solely intended
to “damage someone’s reputation”, but the controversy stirred up by his
proposal had persuaded him of the risks of “mistaken interpretations”.

“Good
intentions don’t necessarily make good laws,” the worldwide press
freedom organisation said. “Senator Expédito Júnior was right to be
angry about a warped use of the Internet by unscrupulous individuals to
sully the reputation of other people, through racist hatred, homophobia
or incitement to paedophilia.”

“We do not question the
parliamentarian’s commitment to press freedom and his decision proves
it. We are nevertheless convinced that this freedom would have been
harmed if the draft law had been voted through. It also went against
the trend of decriminalisation of press offences, which began with the
partial suspension by the federal supreme court of the 1967 press law.”

“This
legacy from the military dictatorship could soon be abolished with the
adoption of a draft law put forward by the deputy, Miro Teixeira,” the
organisation concluded.

The proposal made by Expedito Júnior
would have increased by one third prison sentences against
Internet-users found guilty of “damage to reputation” and would have
made it easier for police to obtain evidence, by giving them the power
to print out incriminating online articles to be produced in court as
evidence. The controversy surrounding his bill led Expedito Júnior to
call for public hearing before the Senate, a request which was refused
by the Senator spearheading the law, Eduardo Azeredo.

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