Regulation of anonymous on-line speech by The São Paulo Appeals Court

My talk will present preliminary results of a research on (i) the conceptions of “anonymity” adopted by the São Paulo Court of Appeals (Tribunal de Justiça de São Paulo — TJSP) in cases dealing with freedom of expression on the internet, and (ii) the legal outcomes resulting from the application of these different conceptions in several cases. This is a relevant issue in Brazil since the Brazilian Constitution of 1988 forbids anonymous speech (cf. art. 5, IV, final part, of the 1988 Constitution). Defining what “anonymity” means in the Constitution is a task for courts, and different conceptions of “anonymity” may lead to very different outcomes in litigation.
The data for the research was collected in a comprehensive research in the published records of São Paulo’s Court of Appeals. With this data, I was able to elaborate a matrix of possible outcomes for cases involving the protection (or the restriction) of “anonymous” speech on the Internet in Brazil. The data also shows who the parties in these cases are, as well as the general context underlying litigation on Internet anonymity in Brazil. I will finalize the presentation suggesting that “anonymity”, for the sake of speech restriction in Brazil, should be understood in the narrowest possible sense, so that our Constitution is not to be interpreted as commanding speech restriction by the mere form (rather than by content, e.g. hate speech) of an utterance, whether or not in the internet.