In the end of February, Bill 170/06 proposed by Congress and which aimed at prohibiting the manufacture, importation and distribution of offensive games in Brazil, was removed from the Senate by its own proponent.
In an official declaration, the Congressman stated that, in reviewing the bill’s content, he concluded that it could end up hurting several fundamental rights, especially freedom of speech, free enterprise and free exercise of an economic activity and that it would even allow potential censorship.
Originally, the bill intended to modify article 20 of Law 7,716 of 1989 – which defines the crimes resulting of prejudice of race or color – by the addition of paragraph 2, which provides that the “manufacture, importation and distribution of videogames which are offensive to the moral; tradition; religion; belief and its symbol would be a crime”. As a penalty, one could be imprisoned from 1 to 3 years plus fine. If the infringing game was made available on the internet or published through any means, the penalty was increased to imprisonment from 2 to 5 years plus fine.
This bill has been very criticized in Brazil as it provides very extreme measures which obviously create a different treatment to videogames in comparison with other similar content. Also, the proposed bill directly hurts freedom of speech and simply disregards all the laws dealing with this matter.
Just as the in the case of audiovisual works, videogames are subject to a rigorous analysis before they are distributed in Brazil. The Ministry of Justice has an important role at this point, as it is the responsible entity for providing rules for the correct age classification of the games. As a matter of fact, a groundbreaking decision about this matter was issued quite recently in Brazil.
All in all, it seems to us that the Congressman’s decision must be applauded.