“Back to basics”: uma entrevista com Michael Posner (NYU) sobre direitos humanos e governança da internet

(fonte da imagem: Wikimedia/Wikipedia Commons)

No dia 02 de abril de 2014, Francisco Brito Cruz, Pedro Ramos e Rafael Zanatta — membros do Núcleo de Direito, Internet e Sociedade da USP (NDIS/USP) — participaram de uma reunião na Escola de Direito de São Paulo da Fundação Getulio Vargas com o Professor Michael Posner, da New York University Stern School of Business.

Michael Posner veio ao Brasil para discutir as relações entre direitos e humanos e empresas. Aproveitando sua estada em São Paulo, pediu fosse organizado um pequeno debate sobre governança da internet e direitos humanos, em razão da proximidade do NETmundial, evento que irá discutir, em São Paulo, a possibilidade de um novo modelo de governança da internet.

Posner foi presidente da Human Rights First e Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DLR) no governo de Barack Obama. Como Assistant Secretary of State, teve papel de liderança na implementação da política externa de internet freedom, da Secretária Hillary Clinton. Em 2010, em depoimento perante o subcomitê de direitos humanos do Senado, Posner afirmou: “defense of a free, open and interconnected Internet is in our national and global interests and is important for commerce, for diplomatic and political relations, and for building sustainable democratic societies”.

No debate, Posner ouviu atentamente a opinião dos acadêmicos e ativistas brasileiros sobre o Marco Civil da Internet e as expectativas para o NETmundial em abril. Ele argumentou que a criação de um sistema multissetorial de governança da internet é perigoso, pois pode dar poder a “estados não democráticos”.

Em entrevista exclusiva para o NDIS, Posner reafirmou a política de uma “internet livre” baseada na defesa de direitos humanos. Ele refutou a ideia de que novos direitos precisam ser reafirmados. Para ele, “é hora de retornar ao básico e garantir direitos humanos já existentes”. Confira a entrevista, realizada por Rafael Zanatta.

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Entrevista com Michael Posner

Rafael Zanatta (NDIS): Thanks Professor Michael for answering these questions for the Law, Internet and Society Nucleus from University of São Paulo (NDIS). We’d like to hear from you what’s your perception about the “Marco Civil da Internet” — our Brazilian law for civil rights. Can you…?

Michael Posner: About democracy? What’s the connection between democracy and civil rights?

Zanatta (NDIS): Yes. How internet changes the relation between democracy and civil rights. How do you see it from outside?

Posner: Yeah, I think the world is changing in a lot of ways. But what’s really dramatic over the last several decades is that you have many non-democratic states and civil society, indigenous civil rights movements, that didn’t exist before. And now they have tools. They have access to the internet, which means they have better information about what is going on in the world. They also have access to information about what is happening in their own society and they are sharing that information. And they’re using that technology as a way of organizing themselves to challenge government actions. That’s a hugely empowering change, but it also has risks because there are many non-democratic authoritarian states. They don’t like dissent, they don’t like criticism and they are now trying to think about ways — directly or indirectly — to silence their critics and to break up the internet as an open platform for that kind of debate and discussion. So you see lots more laws in countries that are restricting the internet and you see efforts to regulate the internet by these non-democratic states that are making more difficult for advocates.

Zanatta (NDIS): Let me just ask you another question. You talked about how the internet strengthen civil society and provide new tools for contesting government actions and try to shape policies. But it seems to our Nucleus that the Brazilian law is trying to foster this because it protects freedom of expression and creates new institutional arrangements for democratic governance, so people that use the internet can express themselves and participate in the government in a different way. So this is one thing. You said that global governance could be dangerous because we do not have the same “democratic profile” in different countries, so when you a global arrangement for deciding policies relating to internet, this may be dangerous. But isn’t it important, after the “Snowden scenario”, to define basic liberties and human rights principles on internet? Isn’t it what is happening right now?

Posner: Yeah. I think that people are constantly trying to invent new human rights rules for the internet. I think it starts by saying that there are human rights principles like free expression, free association and free assembly. And the internet is a new device or set of technologies that allow those long standing human rights to be advanced. So I don’t think we need to redefine human rights. Human rights are defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and various treaties. The question is how you advance those human rights principles in the digital age. It is the same discussion, but I think we should go back to basics. And basics say people have the right to assembly, they have the right to associate, and they have the rights to speak. The internet happens to provide a very powerful and interesting platform for those rights to be fulfilled.

Zanatta (NDIS): So basically we should go back to the basics?

Posner: Yeah, I think this is time to redouble our commitment to core human rights. Free speech, free expression, free assembly and freedom of association — we worked very hard to establish those principles in the Declaration and in various treaties. It took 60 years to define and interpret what those principles means. The internet is a technology. It is not a “rights-creating mechanism”. It is a way of advance existing rights. So let’s keep it an open platform where those rights can be respected and advanced by new technologies.

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