Brazil's Senate Speaker Rodrigo Pacheco Tuesday repealed a Law-decree issued last week by President Jair Bolsonaro concerning censorship on social media.
Pacheco argued that Bolsonaro's decree violated constitutional rules and generated legal insecurity, for which it was returned to the president, rendering it effectless.
Almost simultaneously and for the same reasons, a Supreme Court judge ordered the precautionary suspension of the effects of the presidential measure intended to combat the arbitrary and unwarranted removal of accounts, profiles and content by providers.
Pacheco claimed that issues regarding political rights, freedom of expression, communication and expression of thought cannot be addressed in a decree with the force of law, effective immediately and that it is up to Congress to analyze a matter of ”high technical complexity” like this one.
Facebook, other affected companies and civil society organizations had already warned that it was an unconstitutional decree, while opposition lawmakers had resorted to the Federal Superior Court (STF) to have it revoked.
Bolsonaro, who has already had content removed from his social media accounts removed for spreading information about covid-19 deemed to be false, considers the suspension of accounts or removal of content as “censorship.”
Last week, Bolsonaro signed a temporary measure, which required congressional approval to become law, and which changed internet regulations to combat the arbitrary deletion of accounts, profiles and content.
Bolsonaro's decree was aimed at protecting freedom of expression, but was met with widespread opposition. According to the decree, providers could only remove content with a just cause and demanded tech giants to offer users a channel to exercise a broad defence before any removal was decided.
Besieged by judicial investigations and chaotic management of the pandemic that eroded his popularity, Bolsonaro issued the decree on the eve of a tense day of mass demonstrations last Tuesday, in which he inflamed his followers with new attacks on the Judiciary.
Days later he backtracked on his threats and claimed that his statements against the Supreme Court were delivered in the heat of the moment.