Sexuality Policy Watch (SPW) has just concluded the Brazilian stage of the EroTICs: sexuality and the internet – an exploratory research project, sponsored by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC). SPW had under its responsibility the monitoring and examination of the political and policy landscape, including the identification of main actors, main issues and trends at play as well as tension and challenges in relation to the intersection between internet regulation and sexuality matters. The Latin American Center on Sexuality and Human Rights (CLAM) developed an ethnographic analysis of internet uses and practices of communities in social networks that are engaged with sexuality discussions and related exchanges.
To share the findings and observations of the EroTICs research in Brazil, both teams have been participating in a series of meetings and the first one was the 27th Brazilian Meeting of Anthropology that took place in Belém. The second one was the Fazendo Gênero 9 (Doing Gender 9), an academic meeting on gender issues that was held in Florianópolis. The findings will also be presented during the Latin American Studies Association meeting, in Toronto, Canada in October.
Soon, a final report presenting the observations, analysis, and findings of the study will be published, in which it was tried to map and analyze recent initiatives and debates concerning internet regulation as well as the perception on the part of the feminist and LGBT rights communities on these debates.
About the EroTICs research project
The EroTICs: Sexuality and the internet – an exploratory research project was organized by the Women’s Networking Support Programme of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC WNSP). This was a cross-country research initiative on sexuality and the internet that aimed to explore how internet use and online practices affect notions of sexuality rights in society at large as well as the impact of regulatory policy and censorship on sexualities, sexual health and sexual rights. Four other countries were participating in the EroTICs research: India, Lebanon, USA and South Africa.
In the Brazilian context, the study was developed by SPW and CLAM between May, 2009 – a date that coincided in time with the Turko Operation, conducted by the Federal Police with the support of the Public Prosecutorial Office and the CPI on Pedophilia to investigate child pornography on the internet – and June 9, 2010, when a public hearing to discuss the Civil Framework for Internet Regulation took place in the CPI on Pedophilia, in the Brazilian Senate. During this period the political and policy dynamics at play in respect to internet regulation was particularly intense.
In addition to continuing congress and societal debates on child pornography on the internet, during 2009 internet activism aimed to mobilize a number of gatherings and a web campaign against the law provision on internet regulation. Known as the“Azeredo Bill”, the provision has been pending in Congress since 2003 and was subject to much critique because of its criminal and authoritarian content. 2009 also set the stage for the preparation of the First National Conference on Communication Policies, which entailed a number of relevant debates including freedom of expression and internet regulation itself. Most importantly, in October, the Federal Executive branch proposed the drafting of a Civil Framework for Internet Regulation, which inevitably would become the main focus of attention. The study therefore closely examines this complex and shifting scenario, in terms of the state and societal actors, main arguments in circulation, as well as polemics and challenges. However in order to fully grasp current trends and tensions the research project has also briefly recaptured the main antecedents of discussions and proposals in relation to internet regulation.
The methodology used to collect information and analyze the political landscape was developed in two stages. In the first, a mapping of the internet regulation field and debates in Brazil was sketched to identify the main actors at play, main arenas of debates and arguments circulating, along with the existing normative and institutional framework to understand this specific policy scenario and its intersections with other relevant areas, such as gender equality, LGBT rights and children’s rights. In the second phase, direct observation was made of key moments of debate, a number of principle actors were interviewed, and information published in the media on the debates underway was collected and incorporated into the analysis.
Lastly, to explore the perceptions of the feminist and the LGBT community on the polemics and proposals regarding internet regulation, a short survey was given to activists from these two fields at two meetings that were used as strategic opportunities to collect this information: the ILGA Latin American Regional Conference (January 2010) and a meeting convened by the Patrícia Galvão Institute to discuss the debate on abortion rights in the general electoral context (April 2010).