German Chancellor Fellowship

Learning from the German experience on promoting and protecting the open Internet: the cases of network neutrality and the fight against illicit online content

The open Internet applies a non-discriminatory approach to the Internet traffic, which means that data is transmitted over the network, regardless of their content, origin or destination. However, keeping the open Internet has been a challenge. First, despite the legislation in force in each country, ISPs have violated net neutrality by treating data packets differently. Another challenge has been the fight against illicit online content, which sometimes requires that infrastructure-level intermediaries  (ISPs and DNS operators) block such content.

In Brazil, net neutrality has been protected by the Marco Civil Law, which means that all data packets must be treated equally, regardless of content, origin and destination. The same law also adopted a special regime where ISPs can only be subject to civil liability for damages resulting from content generated by third parties if, after a specific court order, it does not take any steps to make content unavailable. Despite its sophistication, the law is not detailed about acceptable modalities for blocking online services and content.

At the EU level, there are specific regulations and guidelines dealing with net neutrality. Regarding the blocking of online content, there is no specific regulation and each country can analyze the subject differently. In Germany, there is no specific legislation dealing with the question in general, and the analysis depends on the content (under copyright, child protection, malicious content, etc.)

This project aims to evaluate, from a comparative perspective between Germany and Brazil, two of the most relevant problems faced by open Internet: the net neutrality violation and the blocking of illicit content and services.

This project will be made in the Centre for Global Cooperation Research in the University of Duisburg-Essen between October 2020 and September 2021.