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Is Facebook the Internet? Ethnographic Perspectives on Open Internet Governance in Brazil

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 June 2020

Abstract

This article explores the ideals of open Internet governance in Brazil. I examine Brazil’s Internet law, the Marco Civil da Internet (MCI), which promotes the right to Internet access, online privacy, and net neutrality. The MCI’s ideals of a free and open Internet are challenged by Internet companies, such as Facebook, which offer “zero-rating” promotions that provide limited, free mobile data to low-income subscribers. I juxtapose the ideals of openness embodied in the regulatory sphere of the MCI with those of Brazil’s cultura livre (free culture) movement to show the ascendance of open values in Brazilian governance and culture. Accordingly, I employ the rhetorical question, “Is Facebook the Internet?” to demonstrate the ways in which commitments to open Internet governance, expressed in both the cultural and regulatory realms, run counter to the more proprietary ideals of the transnational tech community.

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Articles
Copyright
© 2020 American Bar Foundation

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Footnotes

This work was supported by a Law and Social Science Doctoral Fellowship from the American Bar Foundation, National Science Foundation, and Law & Society Association and a Visiting Assistant Professorship in the Center for Civil and Human Rights at Gonzaga University School of Law.

I offer my heartfelt thanks to those friends, colleagues, and informants in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil, who shared their time and experiences so generously with me. For thoughtful comments on earlier versions of this work, I thank Matthew Shaw, Ayo Laniyonu, Amanda Hughett, Emma Shakeshaft, David McElhattan, Amanda Klientop, Asad Rahim, Meghan Morris, Nate Ela, Elizabeth Mertz, Jason Gillmer, Brooks Holland, Mary Pat Treuthart, Jason B. Scott, Donald Brenneis, Mark Anderson, Megan Moodie, and Daniel T. Linger. I would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers who offered invaluable feedback on earlier drafts.

References

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