Data caps introduced in Brazil
About a year ago, following other experience in Africa, internet service providers (ISPs) in Brazil began to implement data caps for home broadband connections. People were not only charged for the speed of the internet connection they’re paying for, but also limited in the amount of data they can consume per month. Once a data cap (limit) is reached, companies can reduce the connection speed to a minimum or even disconnect you from the internet. This is the business model that mobile operators have used for years in Brazil as well as in other parts of the world. The new pricing scheme go initial support from public officials and became policy in April 2016, when ANATEL — the Brazilian national telecommunications agency — suspended the implementation of data caps for three months, but then allowed them after that time, given certain conditions.
As a consequence, consumer groups and digital rights organizations expressed concerns regarding the implications of data caps for freedom of expression and access to the internet. This prompted the Senate to evaluate the issue and call researchers for testimony. Researchers found that a full 99% of the 608, 470 participants in a survey did not want data caps for broadband internet. That finding motivated Senator Ricardo Ferraço to propose a bill to ban data caps for home broadband connections. The Senate passed that bill in March 2017, and it was sent to the House of Representatives for its evaluation. In the meantime, after strong pressure from IDEC and the Committee of Defense of Users, ANATEL developed a public consultation to gauge acceptance of the new data capping scheme. A stunning number of people participated; by the end of the first day, more than 6 000 people had weighed in. Notably, most of them did not approve of data caps.
On June 13, after public hearings, the Consumer Protection Commission in the House of Representatives approved the bill. This is a huge victory for civil society activists and the public, who made their voices heard on this critical issue. Now it’s time for the Science and Technology and Constitutional Affairs Commissions to evaluate the bill. If they approve the legislation without changes, it will pass to a plenary vote in the House.
A bill to stop data caps and protect broadband
In order to understand the need for this legislation, let’s first take a closer look at what data caps mean. In the simplest terms, “data caps are monthly limits on the amount of data you can use over your internet connection.” Typically, you contract for an amount of data that you can consume; and if you hit your limit, most of the time you will need to buy another pack of data. Or alternatively, your ISP will charge you more money for the extra consumption, or slow down the speed of your data consumption. Bear in mind that data “consumption” includes uploads as well as downloads.
It works differently with no data capping scheme to interfere. An ISP will charge you the same regardless of how much data you consume. The ISP offers its services according to the speed of the navigation, which is closely related to the type of broadband you’re using. In that case, if you want more speed, you will pay more.
With a data capping scheme, though, it doesn’t matter what speed you’re paying for. You may pay “X” for one hour of internet, but with data caps, if you watched videos or uploaded files, you end up paying more for that same hour.
As you can see, data caps can easily create limits and problems, making it more expensive to use the internet or create businesses that depend on it. That is why this bill, now renamed “Projeto de Lei nº 7.182, de 2017”, aims to ban these schemes by adding the following right to the Marco Civil da Internet:
Article 7 .- (…)
“The non-implementation of data caps consumption in broadband Internet plans”
This amendment would guarantee that everyone in Brazil could navigate the internet without arbitrary data consumption limitations.
The bill is now being studied at special commissions in the House of Representatives.”
As member of the Coalizão Direitos na Rede (the Brazilian Coalition for Internet Rights), Internet Without Borders propose you to help Brazilians to pass the bill :
1.) Follow the conversation: Follow Coalizão Direitos na Rede (the Brazilian Coalition for Internet Rights) on Twitterand Facebook to get updated information. You can monitor the situation and tweet about the issue using the hashtag#XôFranquias
2.) Help draft a letter of support for the bill: Help the coalition write an open letter in support of Bill 7.182/17. Write them at email@example.com
3.) Contact your representatives: Email the congressmen deciding on this issue through IDEC’s platform, available atwww.idec.org.br/internetlivre
4.) Stay tuned for ways to do more: Subscribe to the Access Now Express to stay up to date and aware of future actions to support the bill.