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Internet Way of Networking 21 August 2020

Mapping Intermediary Liability in Latin America

Diego Rafael Canabarro
By Diego Rafael CanabarroSenior Regional Policy Manager - Latin America and the Caribbean

Thanks to our Chapters in Latin America, we now have a clearer map of the intermediary liability regulatory landscape across the region.

Intermediary liability answers the question, “Should Internet intermediaries (ISPs, web hosting and cloud services, social media platforms, etc.)  be liable for content posted or for actions performed by others, such as, for example, their users?”

The success of the Internet depends on intermediary liability regimes that protect Internet providers – by ensuring responsibility for user behavior is on the users themselves, not on the intermediaries upon which they rely (both at the infrastructure and content layers).

The way legal frameworks deal with intermediary liability around the world can impact the Internet way of networking in different ways.

In some countries, intermediary liability legislation is well known: the 1996 US Communications Decency Act (Section 230) and the Brazilian Internet Bill of Rights, for example. But in much of the world it is covered by other more general-purpose regulations, such as tort law, consumer protection law, and child protection law.

We asked our local community to help us map and monitor the current regimes that apply to Internet intermediaries in their countries, so that our work can ensure that policies and regulations related to the matter keep supporting a healthy foundation for the Internet.

The questionnaire we developed in partnership with Chapter leaders was responded by people from 18 Latin American countries.[1] The responses generated country profiles with detailed descriptions of rules and regulations that can affect intermediary liability in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, and Venezuela.

The country profiles provide an up-to-date snapshot of the complex regulatory landscape. The majority of countries still rely on general administrative, civil, and criminal norms that apply more or less uniformly to Internet intermediaries.

Copyright regimes and editorial liability are commonly applied, even if they predate the Internet age. General telecommunications regulations can also comprise rules that apply to Internet intermediaries. Chile is a highlight due to its longstanding network neutrality rules, which impose penalties for intermediaries who interfere with the free flow of data at the infrastructure level.

Brazil is the only country among those listed above that has a specialized intermediary liability regime designed for Internet access providers and Internet application providers. The “Marco Civil” establishes exemptions to providers’ liability in relation to third-party content. Access providers are always exempt from liability for user content and behavior.

Our  mapping exercise is still underway. More country profiles produced by LAC Chapter members are expected for the upcoming months.

The process went beyond gathering up-to-date information. It has also helped us identify people who can promote and defend the importance of strong intermediary liability regimes for the Internet Way of Networking project in support of future community engagement and advocacy.

Based on what we have accomplished so far, we had some ideas on how the Internet Society can keep growing its knowledge base on intermediary liability – with the help of its global community. This could include:

  • Country or Chapter-level working groups to review and expand individual country profiles
  • Additional training and work to inspire and collaborate with other Chapters in the region
  • Additional activities and resources around the topic of intermediary liability
  • Replication of the process in other regions
  • Leveraging our community to serve as a valuable source of input to other mapping exercises, such as the World Intermediary Liability Map

Learn more about the Internet Way of Networking!


We would like to thank the following people for having committed their time and knowledge to help us with this collaborative effort: Roberto Zambrana Flores; Félix Fabian Espinoza Valencia; Flávio R. Wagner; Giovanna Michelato; Lorena Donoso Abarca; German M Fajardo Muriel; César Moliné; Alejandro Pisanty; Viviana Da Silva. Additionally, Nancy Quiros and Christian O’Flaherty contributed to this article.

We would also like to thank these people for their contributions: Graciela Mariani; Hector Ariel Manoff; José Ignacio Alvarez-Hamelin; R  Danton Nunes; Eric Alexander – Venturas; Jorge Augusto Ottoni Nobre de Oliveira; Leonardo Lins;   Miguel Medina; Willy Maurer; Mauricio Alarcón Salvador; Kelvin Atiencia; Ethel Monge de Kuri; Yesenia Granillo; Fernando Manuel Morales Rodas; Jose Anibal Silva de los Angeles; Ernesto Pineda; Sandy Karyna Palma Rodríguez;  Ana Laura Leon; Francisco Javier Huerta Gijón; Simon Perez C.; Haydee Almiron; Dra. Dámaris Mercado Martínez; Alicia Castillo; Eduardo Tomé and Jan Alvarado.


[1] Argentina, Bolívia, Brasil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, República Dominicana, Uruguay, Venezuela.


Image by delfi de la Rua via Unsplash

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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