Global Digital Download - Latin America News
The Global Digital Download is a weekly publication that aggregates resources on Internet freedom, highlighting trends in digital and social media that intersect with freedom of expression, policy, privacy, censorship and new technologies. The GDD includes information about relevant events, news, and research. To find past articles and research, search the archive database.
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The improvised alliance between ICANN and the government of Brazil is now beginning to take shape. The "summit" that President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil announced last month now has a name: the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance. It's no longer a summit, it's a GMMFIG. (Shall we pronounce it gum-fig?) The meeting will be held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, April 23 and 24. Don't book your tickets yet, though — we are still debating how open this meeting will be. The purpose of the meeting has been made explicit. According to the news release,
The meeting will aim to produce universal internet principles and an institutional framework for multistakeholder internet governance. The framework will include a roadmap to evolve and globalize current institutions, and new mechanisms to address the emerging internet governance topics. Principles. An institutional framework. A roadmap. No NSA: the meeting will not "discuss or engage in creating solutions for specific topics such as security, privacy, surveillance, etc." Sounds like WGIG version 2.0. Now for the difficult decisions about representation, legitimacy and authority. Who will be able to participate in the meeting? Who will manage its agenda? If committees are set up to make these decisions, who selects the committees? If a committee is set up to create committees, who selects those people? This kind of infinite regress pervades the process of balancing authority and legitimacy in the formation of new institutions.
Ecuador is set to finish a major revision to its Criminal Code on Friday, and it’s not looking good for user rights. Even as the country’s president, Rafael Correa, has been outspoken in criticizing NSA surveillance, the Ecuadorean Assembly is charging ahead with a requirement that all internet service providers spy on their customers, in violation of the country’s Constitution and international law. One of the worst provisions of the proposed Criminal Code would require all internet service providers to retain records of user internet activity for at least six months, and to video record users of cybercafes (more on that below). Article 474, as translated by Access, states: 1. “The suppliers and distributors of information and telecommunications services must retain subscribers’ or users’ data about the contract and preserve the integrity of data related to phone numbers, static and dynamic IP addresses and connecting traffic, as well as connection traffic, transactional access and information of wireless communications links of service and communication route for a minimum of six months in order to perform relevant investigations . . .” As written, this provision is a violation of Article 66.21 of Ecuador’s Constitution, which establishes that “any physical and virtual information . . . cannot be retained, opened or examined, except in those cases provided by law, without prior judicial intervention.” (Although this excerpt makes references to instances “provided by law,” the clause refers to the country’s Criminal Procedure, not the Criminal Code under revision at the moment.)
The NSA has been accused on spying on countries around the world, from Russia to Germany to France. The country with the loudest reaction, however, has been Brazil. Since the revelations, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has cancelled a state dinner with President Obama, pushed for worldwide Internet governance through the United Nations, is overseeing the development of a state-run encrypted e-mail system, and suggested Brazil should build underwater cables that would route Internet traffic around the US. Now the most pressing response is making its way through Brazil's Congress. New legislation would require Brazilian's personal data to be stored within the country, which would force tech giants such as Google and Facebook to build servers on South American soil. When paired with Brazil’s position as an emerging technology hub, this move has some big implications, potentially bolstering the country’s tech industry and shifting Internet dominance away from the US.
Patricia Vargas (@arquitecta), an active and well-known Bolivian Twitter user, went to take photographs on the streets of her hometown of Cochabamba with photographer and filmmaker Roberto Lanza (@lobobs) on Sunday, November 3, but their outing was disrupted when both were arrested by the police.
Brazil, seeking to shield its citizens from alleged U.S. spying, is pushing ahead with its plan to force global Internet companies to store data obtained from Brazilian users inside the country, according to a draft of the law seen by Reuters. Despite opposition from multinational software, hardware and telecommunications companies, President Dilma Rousseff is pressing lawmakers to vote as early as this week on the law, sparked by disclosures of widespread U.S. spying on Brazilian telecommunications data. If passed, the new law could impact the way Google, Facebook, Twitter and other Internet giants operate in Latin America's biggest country and one of the largest telecommunications markets in the world.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is staking out a leadership role for Brazil on the contentious issue of Internet governance. She has prioritized certain legislation amid revelations of widespread electronic espionage by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). Rousseff is also promising to introduce an international Internet governance proposal at the United Nations, for which India has voiced support. A bill introduced in 2011, known as Marco Civil da Internet (Civil Rights Framework for the Internet), has been slowly making its way through Brazil's National Congress, undergoing an extensive public consultation process. Some main provisions include privacy protections, net neutrality, and the non-liability of Internet platform providers for content posted by users (unless ordered removed by a judge).
The National Security Administration (NSA) has intercepted communications of the Mexican government for years, has read text messages and listened to phone calls of its current President Enrique Pena Nieto, and has hacked into the email servers of private companies in Latin America, according to a report published on Sunday by Der Spiegel, a German newspaper. The report is based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who is currently in Russia evading U.S. persecution for revealing classified information from the NSA. The news is the latest in a long line of revelations about the secretive agency. Previous document releases revealed that the agency intercepts and monitors the communications of American citizens without warrants, and also conducts foreign surveillance on several countries, including U.S. allies.
The Internet has democratized the production of mass information. Increasingly people follow blogs and alternative news sites, seeking independent voices that seem closer to them. The demonstrations that have dominated Brazilian reality in recent months have been an example of that. The protesters do not see themselves represented on television, or in major newspapers. On the contrary, they prefer alternative media: live streaming coverage, blogs, social networks. ARTICLE 19 believes the right to blog is as important as any other manifestation of freedom of expression in the media. Thus, since the beginning of the ARTICLE 19’s work in Brazil, we have been driven by promoting the rights and freedoms of bloggers, considering they are often targeted with judicial proceedings and persecution without the legal and economic security that a large media company can offer. Recently, ARTICLE 19 launched a publication specifically dedicated to the blogosphere in Brazil - “Fui processado. O que faço?” (I have been prosecuted. What should I do?) . It is a practical guide for bloggers and Brazilian netizens. The goal is to provide all the necessary information to help bloggers avoid lawsuits and - if they do face them - how to respond to them and what arguments and tools are at their disposal.
Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff recently delivered a speech before the United Nations General Assembly that was very well received among Internet freedom advocates. In her speech, President Rousseff criticized the United States for spying and also mentioned that Brazil “will present proposals for the establishment of a civilian multilateral framework for the governance and use of the Internet and to ensure the effective protection of data that travels through the web.” Her words are, without a doubt, a very good starting point for Brazil if it wants to be the new international leader that guarantees Internet freedom. However, it is necessary that Brazil take concrete actions in support of Rousseff’s words.
Do you care about free speech on the Internet? What about your privacy online? What if your government created a law that could protect these rights, rather than threatening them? Brazilian digital rights advocates have been working for years to pass the Marco Civil da Internet, a one-of-a-kind law that would protect key rights and freedoms on the Internet. US government surveillance programs have brought new momentum to the issue, galvanizing support from civil society and even Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff.
Brazil, which has slammed massive US electronic spying on its territory, said Wednesday it would host a global summit on Internet governance in April. President Dilma Rousseff made the announcement after conferring in Brasilia with Fadi Chehade, chief executive of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). "We have decided that Brazil will host in April 2014 an international summit of governments, industry, civil society and academia" to discuss Brazil's suggestions for upgrading Internet security, Rousseff said on Twitter.
The undersigned members of IFEX, the global network defending and promoting free expression, applaud Brazilian President Dilma Roussef for affirming recently that states must protect freedom of expression, privacy of individuals and respect for human rights online. The President made the commitment during her opening discourse at the United Nations General Assembly on 24 September 2013, where she also defended net neutrality, stating that it should not be restricted for political, commercial, religious or any other purposes. We salute these declarations and urge President Roussef to ensure application of such principles in the domestic legislation of her country. We welcome the fast track granted to the legislative review of the so called “Marco Civil da Internet”, a bill that, if approved, will serve as a Bill of Rights for internet users in Brazil and could be a model for progressive legislation elsewhere.
Today, CDT joined 124 civil society organizations and individuals from Brazil and around the world in a letter to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, commending her for her strong support of open Internet ideals and calling for the enactment of Brazil’s pending Bill of Internet Rights (Marco Civil da Internet). Rousseff delivered a scathing speech at the UN General Assembly this week that criticized the U.S. government’s mass surveillance of the global communications infrastructure and noted, “In the absence of the right to privacy, there can be no true freedom of expression and opinion, and therefore no effective democracy.” In her speech, Rousseff highlighted several key principles for Internet governance and policy, which have informed domestic debates in Brazil’s Internet Steering Committee (CGI.br). They include the principle that Internet-related policy must be designed to support freedom of expression, privacy of the individual, and respect for human rights; that governance be open, democratic, and involve the participation of civil society, industry, and government; and that network neutrality be preserved and restrictions on Internet access for political, commercial, religious, or other reasons be prohibited.
Shortly after being informed of US National Security Agency (NSA) spying, President Dilma Rouseff asked ministers Paulo Bernardo (Communication) and José Eduardo Cardozo (Justice) to include in the Marco Civil da Internet, a charter of Brazilian Internet users, a mechanism that allows the suspension of operation of companies that cooperate with international spying schemes. “It could apply to banks, or telephone companies,” said the Minister of Communication. But the security of sensitive data could also be guaranteed by multinational surveillance companies, given that a large part of the increasing demand for surveillance in the World Cup will be supplied by sector giants – the same companies that provide equipment and software to police forces all over the world, including the American government and the NSA.
AT the opening of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, Dilma Rousseff, the president of my country, Brazil, delivered a scolding speech in response to reports that the National Security Agency has monitored electronic communications of Brazilian citizens, members of government and private corporations. Like a displeased school principal, Ms. Rousseff seemed to speak directly to President Obama, who was waiting in the wings to deliver his own speech. She called the surveillance program “a breach of international law” and “a situation of grave violation of human rights and of civil liberties; of invasion and capture of confidential information concerning corporate activities; and especially of disrespect to national sovereignty.” She seemed personally offended when she demanded “explanations, apologies and guarantees that such procedures will never be repeated.” Last week, she called off a planned visit to the United States, after she learned that the N.S.A. had gained access to her own e-mails, telephone calls and text messages.
ARTICLE 19 is urging the Brazilian Congress to adopt “Marco Civil da Internet” Bill (the Bill), a new law that offers progressive protection for freedom of expression online and establish guidelines for the regulation of the internet in the country. Congress is currently in the process of reviewing the Bill. The original draft of the Bill included protection for the right of freedom of expression, restricts data retention, and offers protection to online companies – including search engines and social media platforms – from being penalised for the actions of their users. ARTICLE 19 cautions against amendments to the Bill and in particular warns that any alteration to Article 15 of the original draft Bill will risk imposing a regime of liability on internet intermediaries, to the detriment of the right to freedom of expression.
Brazil is considering ways to make local use of the internet less dependent on US-based services, following leaks about Washington's cyberspy operations. The South American nation has suggested forcing internet firms to open data centres in Brazil, which would be used to store locally generated material. It is also pursuing a plan to build a new internet cable. The project would offer a way for data to bypass the US. Brazil's President, Dilma Rousseff, has postponed a state visit to Washington after allegations that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had targeted her emails and phone calls.
Grenada's parliament has enacted a law that press freedom bodies believe will have a chilling effect on free speech. People who send emails and tweets or make comments on social networking and media websites that are deemed to be "offensive" face a potential punishment of a year in jail. The electronic crimes act also outlaws the posting of information that is known to be false but is reproduced in order to cause "annoyance… insult… and ill will."
The National Security Agency allegedly has snooped through the networks of Google, a Brazilian oil company, and an international bank cooperative. US documents obtained by Brazilian TV network Globo reportedly detail the spying and instruct NSA agents on how to tap into private computer networks, Reuters said Monday. Globo aired the findings on Sunday night. The targets cited in the report all hold prominent international roles. Google is the dominant search engine in many countries. Petrobras is one of the world's largest oil producers. And as an international bank cooperative, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) conducts a huge number of financial deals. Slides leaked from an NSA presentation were dated May 2012, but otherwise the report didn't reveal exactly when the spying occurred or what data may have been found, Reuters added. Globo said that it worked with Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald to expose this latest information. Greenwald helped disclose the recent revelations about the NSA based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
As far as the Internet goes, Cuba is the Western Hemisphere’s last frontier. Despite the island nation’s proximity to Florida — just 90 miles away — and the existence of a fully functioning fiber-optic cable linked up to Venezuela, only 25% of the population is online, according to last year’s government statistics, which are likely inflated. In June, Cuban citizens were for the first time legally allowed access at designated “cyber points” but few can afford the charges—the cost of one hour online matches an average Cuban’s week’s salary.
Twitter user Gustavo Maldonado was arrested and charged with minor drug-related offenses in Chiapas, Mexico on August 9. Apart from possessing and having sold small amounts of cocaine, not unusual for the area, Maldonado is a vociferous critic of local government. Maldonado's Twitter handle @gumalo3105 and his profiles on Youtube and Facebook are highly critical of governor of Chiapas Manuel Vasco Coello. His arrest took place just hours after he shared a video on YouTube, exposing a corruption scandal related to local water supply services and other social problems. Maldonado was the administrator of the Anonymous Legion Chiapas YouTube channel, where he posted the video.
The International Press Institute (IPI) is deeply alarmed to hear that the editors of the Antiguan investigative news site Caribarena have left Antigua and Barbuda reportedly due to fear for their family's safety. The editors, a husband and wife, told IPI that they and their children had been threatened and harassed and their home vandalised following the publication of articles alleging corruption among high-ranking Antiguan politicians and public figures.
To the soundtrack of fingers banging on keyboards, a cluster of Internet users recently caught up on their e-mails, updated their statuses on Facebook and looked for love on Match.com. The activity would seem unremarkable in any other Internet cafe except there were no lattes for sale and no soft-rock music being piped over speakers, and the owner of "the cafe" is the Cuban government.
While China’s boisterous reaction to PRISM and its vocal condemnation of the perceived “double standards” of the NSA surveillance program has received wide coverage in the U.S. press, less discussed is the response from Brazil, a country with a massive and increasingly important Internet presence. PRISM has added to an already full agenda. Brazilian politicians were already struggling to respond to public outcry for the protection of Internet rights and privacy; now they must also respond to growing demands to protect Brazilian cyberspace from foreign surveillance. The suggestions for addressing the problem of espionage are varied. The NSA leak came at a time when Brazil had revived discussion of a document called “Marco Civil da Internet,” billed as human rights legislation for Internet users. Created largely through public input, the goal of the legislation is to protect individuals by defining the right to privacy, web neutrality, and freedom of speech. The bill stalled in Congress for two years, largely due to opposition from telecommunications companies, but has been revitalized by concern over unwanted surveillance.
Following reports that the Mexican prosecution authority appears to be not only using FinFisher, but also to be involved in a corruption scandal surrounding the purchase of this intrusive surveillance technology, the Mexican Permanent Commission (composed of members of the Mexican Senate and Congress) has urged Mexico's Federal Institute for Access to Public Information and Data Protection (IFAI) to investigate the use of spyware in Mexico.
For the past half dozen years, dissidents such as Yoani Sanchez and her blog “Generation Y” have opened the political debate like no other time since the Castros came to power in Cuba. But Cuba’s dissident movement has deep roots, with many working in relative obscurity for decades. That’s all changing with modern technology. With the global expansion of the Internet, dissidents have been able to step into the international limelight, using blogs and social media to generate vast networks of supporters.Websites such as Voces Cubanas and The Havana Times allow dissidents to critique the government, offer alternative perspectives and connect with other civil society groups.
Internet Monitor is delighted to announce the publication of “Rationing the Digital: The Policy and Politics of Internet Use in Cuba,” the first in a series of special reports that will focus on key events and new developments in Internet freedom, incorporating technical, legal, social, and political analyses. “Rationing the Digital,” authored by Internet Monitor contributor Ellery Roberts Biddle, explores Cuba’s complex economy of Internet connectivity, how digital expression is regulated in the country, and how recent developments in infrastructure might change the shape of access and use on the island.
If you were to read only the headlines of US news covering the controversy surrounding Edward Snowden and the NSA’s surveillance in Latin America over the last two weeks, it would be easy to think that Latin America was a single bloc of nations that almost always acted in unity against the United States.
The OpenNet Initiative (ONI) is proud to release new reports on Internet regulation and filtering in Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, and Peru, along with an updated report on Venezuela, where the ONI tested for the first time in 2007. All five profiles can be accessed at: https://opennet.net/research/profiles. Many governments across Latin America view the Internet as a key tool for development and are developing ICT policies accordingly. While the region has a history of media abuses and restrictions on freedom of the press, ONI testing found little evidence of Internet filtering.
Brazilian journalist José Cristian Góes has been sentenced to more than seven months in prison for posting a fictional blog item that mocked corrupt practices. His piece, "Me, the colonel inside me," lampooned the clientelist methods used by people in positions of power and influence (known in Brazilian slang as "colonels"). His story was told in the first person by an imaginary colonel and did not identify any person.
By the standards of many Cubans, Lazaro Noa García is an adept internaut. He e-mails his daughter in Mexico a couple of times a week at a cybersalon in an upscale suburb, and checks soccer scores and news on Yahoo.
Jaime Delgado, director of the news site Periodismo Negro (Black Journalism), published out of Baja California, reported receiving threats stemming from his journalistic work.
Nearly two months after Costa Rica hosted the United Nations World Press Freedom Day, Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla announced that she would sue anyone who “defames” her on social media. The president’s lawsuit against a hotel owner who posted remarks about her on his personal Facebook page outraged social media users, who say it calls the country’s reputation for freedom of expression into question.
More than a million Brazilians have joined protests in over 100 cities throughout Brazil in the past few weeks. Since their early beginning as a “Revolta do Busão” (Bus rebellion) to reduce bus fares, the protests now include a much larger set of issues faced by Brazilian society. Protesters are angry about corruption and inequality. They’re also frustrated about the cost of hosting the upcoming World Cup and Olympic Games in light of economic disparity and lack of high quality basic services. Yesterday, as Brazil defeated Spain to win the Confederations Cup final, police clashed with protesters near Maracana stadium for the second time in two weeks.
Lawmakers on the island of Grenada are tired of online "mischief." So they've banned it. How might this affect the nation's discourse? The island of Grenada has decided that it has had enough. Its lawmakers wish to designate the country a decorous online enclave in the midst of the vile, open-mouthed free-for-all that is the Web. So they have passed a law that makes it a criminal offense to insult someone online.
On June 14, 2013, after almost four years of discussion, Ecuador’s National Assembly passed a new Communications Law, providing a legal framework for the fundamental right to communications considered in several articles of the Constitution of 2008. While this new legislation represents a great advance for internet access, along with a more equitable distribution of public spectrum that can bring more diversity and pluralism to public media, it also contains some provisions that represent a threat to freedom of expression.
Today, civil liberties groups from across Latin America sent a letter (click here to read an English translation) to the European Parliament, urging the lead Committee working on the Data Protection Regulation to protect the privacy of citzens in the EU and around the world. The groups expressed their full support for the efforts of the European Commission to update, harmonise, and strengthen current data protection laws on the European continent. The letter also calls attention to the unprecedented lobbying efforts against the Regulation, and urges the Committee members to stand strong and uphold their role as global standard setters.
The fiber optic cable, which is expected to improve Cuba's connectivity to the Internet, is of utmost importance to the country, and every piece of information continues to clarify the current state of this technological infrastructure. In the past days, U.S. company Renesys announced on its blog that during this week they “observed a second non-satellite connection established for the Cuban state telecom, ETECSA [Cuban State Telecommunications Company]“.
The Electoral Justice Court of Amapá ordered on May 18 to block the bank account of a blogger sentenced to pay more than $900,000 in fines to former president and current federal senator José Sarney, informed Portal Terra. Sarney sued the blogger, Alcinéa Cavalcante, for a post she wrote on her blog during the 2006 electoral campaign. She suggested making a sticker with the phrase "The vehicle that resembles me the most is the police wagon" and asked readers which politician should receive it.
Last month, a Chilean criminal court dismissed all charges against Rodrigo Ferrari, who was charged in February with the criminal offense of “identity usurpation,” for allegedly authoring the twitter accounts @losluksic, @luksicandronico, and @andronicoluksic, Twitter accounts that parodied the activities of the Luksic family, among the wealthiest families in Chile. From the beginning of his case, Mr. Ferrari maintained that he only authored @losluksic, mocking the family in what constituted a legitimate exercise of his right to freedom of expression; Ferrari denied involvement with the other two Twitter accounts.
For years the content copyright industries Have Been lobbying, in national law or Within trade agreements, for overreaching rules That would break the Internet in the name of copyright enforcement. Lately, Such Proposals ranges from the termination of user access account on the mere allegation of copyright infringement, to enacting censorship powers That would make parts of the global Internet disappear from view, as well as digital locks laws imposing That stifle online innovation and restrict the Ability to use lawfully-acquired digital content.
Reporters Without Borders calls on the Cuban authorities to quickly release Angel Santiesteban-Prats, a writer and blogger who has been held for the past two months and who has been on hunger strike since his transfer to a different prison at the start of this month. He is now in an isolation cell. “On 9 April, the same day that the authorities acceded to calls for dissident journalist Calixto Martínez’s release, Santiesteban-Prats was transferred to Prison 1850 in the Havana suburb of San Miguel del Padrón and was subjected to a ‘maximum-severity’ regime of treatment.
Last Thursday, when releasing that latest round of data, Google noted that it received “more government removal requests than ever before.” That’s understating the trend, a bit: In 2012 as a whole, Google received more than twice as many takedown requests as it had in 2011. “It’s become increasingly clear that the scope of government attempts to censor content on Google services has grown,” legal director Susan Infantino wrote. This varies country by country: some only bother the company a few times each year. Others get in touch multiple times each day. Among this latter group of countries, the one that has been the most aggressive about using Google to remove content—and the country who among top requesters, has had its requests shot down most often—is Brazil.
The national assembly approved an amendment to the computer crimes law on second reading yesterday by a big majority (42 to 2) without any changes to the version that was adopted on first reading after modification. The bill is now waiting to be signed into law by the president. Reporters Without Borders regrets that parliamentarians did not make further changes on second reading and, in particular, that they did not change a new provision under which revealing state secrets related to national security, defence of sovereignty and foreign relations will be punishable by one to six years in prison.
Choose an acronym — SOPA, ACTA, TPP. Whether a legislative proposal or a trade agreement, Internet rights groups are framing the issues in much the same way: a global threat to free speech and privacy. They’ve cast content providers as repeat players in a battle over the future of intellectual property. The current manifestation is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, negotiations with 11 Pacific Rim nations meant to revolutionize digital trade and set the tone for future agreements.
A Brazilian court has ruled that satirical blog Falha São Paulo must remain shut down because its name is too similar to the newspaper it mocks, a move that critics decry as a dangerous legal precedent for freedom of expression. The dispute began in September 2010 when newspaper Folha de São Paulo, one of the largest in Brazil, won a court order to have the blog shuttered, claiming that the site, which parodied the newspaper, its reporters, and its directors, was an infringement of the newspaper's brand.
Lourdes Alicia Ortega Perez, the Venezuelan woman who was arrested last week after mocking Hugo Chavez on Twitter, was released from police custody on March 16. Ortega was taken to court on charges of spreading false information and committing fraud. She has since been granted her freedom, but will be required to appear before the court every 30 days.
Peru recently introduced a draconian bill that accelerates information requests related to criminal investigations, in a way that violates the due process rights of Peruvians. This bill follows other countries that are introducing bills that dangerously expandsurveillance mandates. This latest proposal comes in response to a series of organized crimes that have put pressure on the Peruvian justice system, but does not adequately address how the process will work nor how human rights will be respected. Creating a “Crisis Committee,” the proposal allows for due process guarantees to be bypassed and grants a selected group of law enforcement agents telcos to have a hand in reviewing requests for user data.
Of all the numbers that demonstrate Mexico’s persistent inequality, the digital divide is one of the more surprising. There are fewer than 41 million Internet users in Mexico, a country of more than 112 million people. That’s a connectivity rate of just 36 percent in Latin America’s second-largest economy. Barely 17 percent have Internet access at home, according to the latest figures of the Americas Barometer, a survey by Vanderbilt University’s Latin American Public Opinion. Although the digital divide – the gap between those who can afford access and those who can’t – has narrowed in recent years, progress has been slow and Mexico still finds itself well below its peers.
Reporting on the realities of Mexican life still carries enormous risk. Against this backdrop, Reporters Without Borders submitted recommendations on 4 March to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations (see document below), which will examine the case of Mexico during the 17th Universal Periodic Review (21 October – 1 November 2013). In the states of San Luis Potosí (north-center) and Tamaulipas (north-east), organized crime and local governments, the latter sometimes infiltrated by drug cartels, continue to threaten journalists and netizens who dare to report on violence and corruption linked to the drug trade, the press freedom organization reported.
At a press conference held this morning, 26 February 2013, in Quito, the Executive Director of Fundamedios, César Ricaurte, presented a statement regarding the inexplicable and arbitrary suspension of the organization's official account on Twitter, @FUNDAMEDIOS. A few minutes after the press conference, the account was reinstated. Twitter did not provide any explanation of the reasons why it was suspended in the first place, or the criteria to reinstate it later. In this regard, Fundamedios reaffirms its concern about the arbitrary measures that Twitter might be taking when suspending accounts, which may have a negative impact on the exercise of the right to freedom of expression of thousands of users. Therefore, it is most necessary that the social network provides a clear and precise explanation on the reasons why this account was suspended.
A Twitter user is facing jail time in Chile after a powerful business mogul accused him of identity theft for creating parody accounts on the microblogging site. Attorney Rodrigo Ferrari Prieto was charged on February 19, 2013 as the man behind the now inactive @losluksic, @andronicoluksic, and @luksicandronicoparody Twitter accounts, which mocked Chilean business tycoon Andrónico Luksic and his familiy.Adding to the controversy, a key element in the investigation that led authorities to the owner of the account's identity was, according to the prosecution, an international request sent to the United States State Department asking them to mediate so that Twitter would deliver the information of the account owner and its IP.
A Facebook page in Mexico has notched tens of thousands of followers for posting detailed but unconfirmed updates on security risks in the drug-war hot zone of Tamaulipas state. Now, purported assassins have declared a bounty on the head of the page's anonymous administrator. In response, the Facebook author said the page would not stop gathering and publishing information on shootouts and highway blockades because the Tamaulipas authorities and local news outlets offer nearly zero updates on so-called "risk situations."
Boisterous protesters backing the Cuban government blocked the Monday screening of a documentary featuring one of Cuba’s best-known dissidents, the blogger Yoani Sánchez, who was in attendance after being allowed to leave the communist island for the first time in nearly a decade. Small groups of protesters met Sánchez when she arrived earlier Monday at two airports in Brazil’s northeast. They called her a “mercenary” who was being financed by the CIA and tossed photocopied U.S. dollar bills her way. One protester got close enough to pull her hair.
On 28 January 2013, the website "BananaLeaks.co" was under attack by unidentified hackers. The page was hacked after the publication of an article that revealed the alleged existence of two bank accounts owned by President Rafael Correa in Switzerland. The Colombian-American journalist Santiago Villa, who was named BananaLeaks' spokesman, confirmed during a multimedia program on radionexx.com, hosted by Ecuadorian journalist Emilio Palacio, exiled in Miami, that the page had been attacked by hackers.
Mexican journalists and bloggers need to urgently improve their understanding of digital and mobile security, according to a new report by Freedom House Mexico and the International Center for Journalists. The survey, led by ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellow Jorge Luis Sierra, interviewed 102 journalists and bloggers in 20 Mexican states between October and November 2012. According to the report, almost all those surveyed use social networks, mobile telephones and blogs as part of their job but had "little or no command of digital security tools."
A new survey of 102 journalists and bloggers in 20 Mexican states shows nearly 70 percent have been threatened or have suffered attacks because of their work. In addition, 96 percent say they know of colleagues who have been attacked. Respondents to the survey also say they view cyberespionage and email account cracking as the most serious digital risks they face. And while nearly all have access to and rely on the Internet, social networks, mobile phones and blogging platforms for their work, they also admit that they have little or no command of digital security tools such as encryption, use of virtual private networks (VPNs), anonymous Internet navigation and secure file removal. The results of this survey show the urgent need to introduce Mexican journalists and bloggers to new technologies and protocols and help newsrooms develop a culture of digitalsecurity awareness to counter increasingly sophisticated threats and attacks from both governmental agencies and criminal organizations.
There is a popular expression in Cuba that is synonymous with difficulty and crisis. When you want to indicate that someone is doing badly economically, it is sufficient to say that he is "eating a cable." Street humor has identified the act of chewing and swallowing a bundle of wires with scarcity and material want. The parable has gained strength these days in reference to the fiber-optic cable installed between Cuba and Venezuela, which has yet to provide service to Cuban clients despite reports that it is finally functioning.
From 2004, the United States has signed onto free trade agreements with nearly half of the countries in Latin America. As a product of these agreements, Peru, Colombia, Chile, Panama and other Central American countries agreed to enact new and more restrictive copyright laws, which can place important threats on the fundamental rights of internet users across the region. A recent court decision in Colombia and a campaign initiative in Peru are good reminders that there is a long, but encouraging road ahead on these issues.
After more than 20 denied requests in the last five years, well-known Cuban blogger and activist Yoani Sánchez was granted on Wednesday a passport to travel abroad. "Increidible!!" Sánchez wrote on her Twitter account." They called me at home to tell me that my passport is ready! They just gave it to me!" Sánchez had been asking for a passport since 2009 to attend conferences, academic events, awards ceremonies and the release of her own books abroad, Café Fuerte reported. Cuban authorities denied Sánchez the document 24 times.
Good news hails from Colombia today, where the Constitutional Court has struck down a sweeping copyright enforcement law because Congress had fast tracked the bill and overstepped various legislative procedures. The Court also ruled on the constitutionality of the law itself, over provisions on the retransmission of TV content and signals over the Internet as well as its language on technological protection measures.
Cuban Internet connectivity continues to evolve by the hour, with a new, faster mode of operation in evidence as of this morning. Our measurements from around the world suggest that Cuban technicians may have completed the work they began a week ago, creating the first bidirectional Internet paths that are free of satellite connectivity.
In February 2011, the first submarine cable connecting the island nation of Cuba to the global internet (by way of Venezuela) landed on Siboney beach, Santiago de Cuba. In the two years since, the fate of the cable has been a mystery for Cuba observers. In the past week, our global monitoring system has picked up indications that this cable has finally been activated, although in a rather curious way, as we explain below.
What happens when you place a mix of journalists, technologists, human rights lawyers, digital rights activists, and victims of surveillance from around the world in a room to map the problems of electronic surveillance? What emerges is a complicated story made up of a number of complicated stories. Each participant brings a particular expertise to bear on the larger surveillance puzzle. Taken as a whole, these voices paint a portrait of state surveillance that is far more contextual and diverse than most people could imagine.
“The cable has a shelf life of 25 years. Time flies.” So begins the last post on “Desde adentro de Cuba” (”From inside Cuba”), a blog that compiles a chronology of the articles published throughout the island's state media and, specifically, on Cubadebate, about the fate of the $70 million investment that the Caribbean nation made in 2007 to improve access to the Internet and the “actual speed of broadcasting information” in Cuba.
About half of all Latin American countries have signed free trade agreements with the United States. As part of the bilateral commitments, Peru and others agreed to pass more restrictive copyright enforcement laws. Peruvian lawmakers said they’d consult various sectors before writing their law. But as contributor Miguel Morachimo of Hiperderecho found, the process is much less transparent and accessible than civil society groups had hoped.
It is increasingly common to hear that a particular country is considering or actually enacting some type of law that affects Internet freedom. Peru is not immune to this. A few months ago, the country's Cybercrime Law (Ley de Delitos informáticos [en] or Ley Beingolea) sparked concern and debate over the possibility that it posed a threat to Internet privacy and freedom of expression.
Antonio Rodiles, curator of the independent scholarly forum Estado de SATS, was released in Havana last Wednesday after enduring over three weeks of detention. Rodiles was arrested on November 7, along with numerous other bloggers and civil society advocates on the island, including well-known blogger and attorney Laritza Diversent, author of the blog Jurisconsulto de Cuba (Cuban Legal Advisor). There has been no report of Diversent’s release as of December 3, 2012.
On the afternoon of December 3, Paúl Moreno, the Ecuadorian blogger who had been arrested on charges of fraudulent access to computer systems and databases, was released. Moreno had demonstrated that the government website datoseguro.gov.ec lacks adequate security mechanisms for obtaining data on its citizens. Moreno said on his blog that the he found the flaw in the system by using easily accessible information on Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa. Moreover, a post on hackeruna indicates that on March 7 (the date on which datoseguro.gob.ec was officially launched) vulnerabilities in the platform had already been detected.
An Ecuadorian blogger who documented a security hole in Ecuador’s national online identity database by registering as the nation’s president was released from jail today after the president personally intervened in the matter. Authorities arrested Paul Moreno on Friday after he documented how he created an account under President Rafael Correa’s name in the national identity database, DatoSeguro. The portal allows citizens to access personal information kept by various government institutions. Moreno notes that the database contains personal information such as criminal records, foreign travel, vehicle registration, property registration and college degrees.
When we last wrote about Marco Civil, in late September, the bill had just failed to be voted on for the third time. Since then, it’s been to the plenary session three more times, and three times has it not been voted on. In many ways, the sticking points remain the same: the main concern is about net neutrality (Article 9), with secondary concerns about data retention provisions for access providers (Article 13), and about whether copyright material will be included in the bill’s intermediary liability provision (Article 15).
Reporters Without Borders is saddened to learn that Eduardo Carvalho, the owner and editor of the Ultima Hora News website, was gunned down in Campo Grande, the capital of the southwestern state of Mato Grosso do Sul, on 21 November. Carvalho had been getting threats since last year in connection with reports he posted on the site criticizing Mato Grosso do Sul politicians and police officers.
Bolivia’s National Census of Population and Housing 2012 will be held on November 21. The previous national census took place more than a decade ago, in December 2001. Led by the National Institute of Statistics (INE in Spanish), the national 2012 census aims [es] to provide “updated information on demographic, social, economic and housing conditions in the country, allowing to adjust, define and evaluate plans, programmes, public policies and strategies for sustainable human, economic and social development at the national, departmental and municipal levels”.
Internet service providers (ISPs) are the conduits of free expression on the Internet. However, many international and national law and policy proposals, including trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) and others, attempt to make Internet intermediaries the sole arbiter and enforcer of the law instead of courts and judges. ISPs should not be Internet cops. Not only are they not equipped to make such decisions, proposals to make them liable for Internet content end up promoting law enforcement methods that purposefully skirt due process rights.
The outcry that has followed the enactment three days ago of Costa Rica’s highly controversial cybercrime law has forced the government into a hasty about-turn. It announced today that the legislation, which provides for up to 10 years’ imprisonment for publishing “secret political information”, would not apply to journalists.
The Brazil's Chamber of Deputies, the lower legislative house, approved two cyber-crime laws and set a date for the vote on an Internet Bill of Rights, reported the magazine Época on Nov. 7. According to the newspaper Valor Econômico, complaints about the Bill of Rights from telecommunications businesses and artists, who criticized a section about authors' rights online, led the Chamber to postpone the vote. The bill's sponsor, Deputy Alessandro Molon, requested a plenary session on Nov. 13. This will be the fourth time the vote has been postponed, reported the website TechTudo.
Last June, my government proposed a law that could have imprisoned the average internet user for no fault of their own. The Cybercrime Bill would have overturned our Constitutional right to communications secrecy and given police easy access to our data. With Access, we created a coalition of voices pushing for a revised law that protected user rights to privacy and freedom of expression. That fight is not over: the Cybercrime Bill is dormant but not dead. However, until civil society gains a stronger voice over internet policy, and Peruvian politicians recognize us as meaningful stakeholders, we only expect more of the same problematic laws.
Most people outside of Mexico may have never heard of Ruy Salgado. But during the most recent electoral contest here, that name not only became known throughout Internet circles in Mexico, but was arguably one of the most influential voices of opposition in the country. Ruy Salgado, a pseudonym, has an online alias known as el 5anto. Salgado is a nonprofit video blogger whose notoriety increased during these past elections for his very critical view of both the transparency of the process and the role of the mainstream media in “manipulating the truth.”
A top Bolivian official has a stern warning for those who criticize President Evo Morales on social networks: He's watching what they say, and taking names. "I am always going online, and I am writing down the first and last names of the people who insult him on Facebook and Twitter," Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera said in remarks widely reported in Bolivian media this week.
Costa Rica, a country whose Constitutional Court declared access to the Internet a fundamental right, recently approved a series of reforms to the Criminal Code, creating new criminal offenses—Law 9048—severely restricting internet freedom and causing alarm among netizens and journalists. The law was signed by President Laura Chinchilla on July 10, 2012.
A Mexican journalist was kidnapped in the middle of a family party and then murdered in Tijuana, a city on the US border. Ramón Abel López Aguilar, 53, was the editor of a news website, Tijuana Informativo, and a noted photographer. After his abduction, his body was found hours later dumped on a street. He had been killed by a single shot to his head.
On Oct. 23 and 24, EFF will join privacy commissioners from throughout the world in Punta del Este, Uruguay, for the 34th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners, the premier global event on privacy issues. A tagline on the event website, “Privacy and Technology: The Debate Is Now,” could not be more apt. This international meeting brings together commissioners working on privacy regulation and personal data protection with experts, nongovernmental organizations, and academics focused on these crucial issues.
The International Press Institute (IPI) today welcomed the release of Cuban blogger and IPI World Press Freedom Yoani Sánchez, who had been detained by Cuban authorities on Thursday evening while attempting to cover the trial of a Spanish activist accused of causing the death of a well-known dissident in a car crash.
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the arrest of three independent Cuban bloggers and calls for their immediate release. Yoani Sánchez, one of Cuba's most prominent bloggers, was detained yesterday along with her husband, journalist Reinaldo Escobar, and blogger Agustín Díaz in the city of Bayamo, according to news reports. "The arrest of these journalists clearly indicates that the Cuban government continues its practice of punishing independent reporting," said Carlos Lauría, CPJ's Americas senior program coordinator. "Cuban authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Sánchez, Escobar and Díaz and allow all Cuban reporters to report without fear of intimidation."
Brazil: Call For Quick Adoption Of Internet Law Amid Continuing Harassment Of Techincal Intermediaries
On the evening of 27 September, Google Brazil finally yielded to pressure from the Brazilian courts and blocked access to a YouTube video that was deemed to defame one of the many candidates in the two-round municipal elections due to be held on 7 and 28 October. Earlier in the day, Google Brazil president Fabio Jose Silva Coelho had been arrested for failing to withdraw the video within a 48-hour deadline after a judge in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul ruled that it contravened the electoral law. The video was a personal attack on Campo Grande mayoral candidate Alicides Bernal.
The Panamanian Congress recently passed a dangerous copyright bill, and it is one step away from becoming law. That's why civil society organizations from around the world have rallied to urge President Ricardo Martinelli to reject the legislation, send it back to Congress, and allow experts and civil society members to be involved in the process. The bill has caused a huge uproar around the world, including one report calling it "the worst copyright bill in history."
The Brazilian unit of Google, the world's No. 1 Internet search engine, said on Thursday it had obeyed a court order to remove a video attacking a candidate in Brazilian municipal elections from its YouTube service after legal appeals were exhausted. "We are profoundly disappointed to not have the opportunity of openly debating our arguments in the electoral justice system that the videos were legitimate manifestations of the freedom of expression and should continue (to be) available in Brazil," said Fabio Coelho, director-general of Google in Brazil in an e-mailed statement.
Colombian activists have brought the fight for a free internet home to their citizens. The Colombian group Karisma personalized a global sign-on letter concerning an upcoming conference of the International Telecommunication Union, a UN agency. The easy-to-understand letter invites other non-governmental organizations -- beyond the realm of free expression and internet or technology activism -- to take a role in their country's consultations and protect the human rights of users. So far seven Colombian groups signed the letter and delivered it to the Colombian Minister of Information Technologies and Communications, Diego Molano Vega.
After two previous delays, the Marco Civil, Brazil’s national bill of rights on internet liberties, was supposed to be up for a vote on September 19th. The international community has closely watched the bill’s progress, as many see it as a framework for countries around the world, given it’s goal to protect online speech, privacy, and granting intermediaries legal cover for hosting controversial content. But, the vote was cancelled, again, for a third time. At the initial vote, there was no quorum. The second time, as some has feared, the meeting end up being cancelled. As of now, the voting is expected to take place sometime after the October elections.
Fabio José Silva Coelho, President of Google Brazil, has now been arrested by federal police in São Paulo. The federal police say that he will be released on his own recognizance if he agrees in writing to appear in court for face the charges. "Judge orders arrest of president of Google's operation in Brazil" The headline was bizarre enough, but what followed seemed to come straight out of The Onion: "... for failure to remove YouTube videos that attacked a mayoral candidate." And the cherry on top: the judge also ordered "a statewide, 24-hour suspension of Google and YouTube."
Paraguayan ISP and cellular carrier Personal (www.personal.com.py) is currently blocking the satirical site http://abcolor.me from its users. The site allows users to create their own articles, which are then published with the exact same format -logo included- of the original newspaper’s site, ABC Color (www.abc.com.py). This was interpreted by social media users as a pun on the bias and lack of rigor that permeates ABC’s practice, a longstanding criticism from civil society groups and online activists.
The Mexican blog El 5antuario reported today that its founder, known as Ruy Salgado or “El 5anto”, has been missing for the past six days. "Salgado’s disappearance may be voluntary, but he may have been kidnapped or worse and every day that passes without his reappearing rightly increases the concern about his fate," Reporters Without Borders said. "If he disappeared voluntarily, he would not be the first person to choose temporary silence. More and more journalists are fleeing the country or the region where they work.
Brazil is close to passing the world’s first internet bill of rights. The Marco Civil da Internet aims to guarantee basic protections for internet users. In development since 2009, the civil regulatory framework was created through public consultation and has undergone many changes, eventually reaching the Brazilian Chamber this year. The bill has catapulted Brazil to a progressive position in digital policymaking, potentially serving as a model for other countries trying to balance user rights against interests of online companies and law enforcement. The crucial vote will take place in Brazil’s Congress on 19 September.
Cuban authorities detained blogger and freelance photographer Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo on Saturday, Sept. 1, reported blogger Yoani Sánchez in her Twitter account. She has also denounced the arrest on the portal Háblalo Sin Miedo, which allows Cuban dissidents to call a telephone number in the United States to leave a report. After more than nine hours of illegal detention and a demonstration outside the jail by activists, Pardo and his fiancé Silvia Corbelle were released around 11 p.m. on Saturday, acording to El Nuevo Herald.
In 2010, Chile updated its copyright law with a novel approach for protecting Internet intermediaries from liability for their users’ copyright infringement. Though modeled on the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the law differs in one crucial respect: While a cornerstone of the US law is its private notice-and-takedown system, the Chilean law requires that rightsholders secure a court order before content must be taken down.
José Noel Canales Lagos, a 34-year-old journalist who had worked for the Hondudiario news website for the past 12 years, was gunned down in the capital on 10 August, bringing the number of journalists killed in the past decade to 30 (25 of them since the June 2009 coup). This latest tragedy took place during a visit to Honduras by the UN special rapporteur for freedom of expression, Frank La Rue, from 7 to 14 August, as a result of which the government announced on 9 August that it would create a special entity for protecting journalists and solving the many murders of journalists in recent years.
In a wave of civic action, Peruvian citizens have sent over 5,000 letters to their representatives in Congress using Access’ speakout platform in response to the Computer Crimes Bill being quietly fast-tracked through the legislative process. The bill could be called up for a final vote in the Plenary Assembly at any time, though legislators have yet to publicize a schedule. The vote is expected to occur as soon as new commission assignments are finalized, but a new president of the Commission of Justice and Human Rights, could move the bill back to committee for further debate and consultation with affected stakeholders.
Brazilian Minister Gilmar Mendes of the Federal Supreme Court asked federal police to open an investigation into Wikipedia for its distorted and "ideological" posts, reported the newspaper Estado de São Paulo. Mendes already had requested that the editors make changes to a post about him, but the request was denied. According to the website Olhar Digital, the minister's argument is that the article "Gilmar Mendes" includes six paragraphs with accusations, currently contested in court, that extend beyond his term in office.
SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, CISPA, TPP and a long list of draft laws, international treaties, and practices seek to impose the idea that the Internet is a wild space that must be controlled at all costs. At the same time, governments around the world increasingly claim their sovereignty on the Internet, and in turn interfere with Internet architecture, leaving its protagonists, from users to intermediaries, with new responsibilities [including legal ones]. These initiatives, sometimes driven by good intentions and other times (as we know) not so much, look to control the free flow of Internet content in some way. This can have profound implications for the rights of citizens.
Tomorrow, a special committee in Brazil's Congress will vote on the Marco Civil da Internet, a "bill of rights" for Internet users. If passed, the law would represent a paramount advance in country's digital policymaking agenda. The Marco Civil da Internet, or Civil Regulatory Framework for the Internet, establishes a clear set of rights and responsibilities for users, sets strong net neutrality principles, and shields Internet intermediaries from liability for illegal content posted by users.
The Marco Civil da Internet, a “bill of rights” for Internet users proposed in Brazil, would represent a paramount advance in country's progressive digital policymaking agenda. Officials expect the law will come to a vote on August 8. The Marco Civil da Internet [pt] (Civil Regulatory Framework for the Internet) establishes a clear set of rights and responsibilities for users, sets strong net neutrality principles, and shields Internet intermediaries (Internet service providers, hosting platforms, social networking and blogging sites) from liability for illegal content posted by users.
Baidu, the search engine known as “China’s Google” has launched a Portuguese-language version on the Brazilian market (http://br.hao123.com/) of Hao123, a directory of links that also allows Internet content searches.At the beginning of the year the company said it would open an office in Sao Paulo and that Hao123 would be the company’s first project in Brazil and the first of the company’s products to be localised in Portuguese.
Earlier this month, Access warned about a dangerous new cybercrime law makings its way through the Peruvian Congress. As we wrote then, the proposal would “amend the country’s Criminal Code by introducing new crimes related to the use of information communication technology. The proposal aims to guarantee Peruvians their ‘right to development.’ However, it is difficult to see how the proposed law would aid the average citizen or their development, in economic, political, social, or legal terms.”
On July 20, 2012, Peru's Justice and Human Rights Commission approved the Computer Crime Bill, but many steps must still be taken before this bill becomes law. The recent change of ministers may also somewhat affect the bill's wording. However, it is not too late to keep an eye on the bill's development given how it evolved thus far.
On the evening of Wednesday 25 July 2012, blogger and twitter user Pablo Villegas was threatened by an unidentified person through a comment published in his personal blog "Con voz y sin voto". The three-paragraph-long threat was uploaded around 22:43 in the comments section of a blog post entitled "Social networks in Banania" by a user who identified himself using the pseudonym "Con respeto".
Mexican advocates of internet freedom are mobilising to protest their government’s decision to sign the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a multilateral treaty whose stated aim is to protect intellectual property right through enhanced international cooperation and enforcement. These activists will pressure president-elect Enrique Peña, who is scheduled to take office on Dec. 1, and the new senate due to be inaugurated on Sep. 1, to reject ratification of the treaty, which, they say, has provisions that threaten user privacy, freedom of expression, and universal internet access.
The recently concluded Festival Clic [es], which took place in Havana from June 21-23, 2012, and was designed to discuss Internet and Society in Cuba, has got several bloggers talking about technology and the role it can play in the country's future.
In 2012, blogs were listed as the second-most used tool among Brazilian journalists, 59 percent of whom used blogs for disseminating news, studeis have shown. However, the main source for journalists in search of news continues to be press releases, mentioned 32 percent of the time. Among social media, which are a challenge for journalists, Twitter was most used by the press (67 percent), followed by Facebook and blogs, which were tied at 57 percent.
The U.S. State Department is increasing funding for the technology side of its Cuba democracy programs in hopes of expanding the flow of uncensored information, despite the Castro government’s long-standing objections. “In spirit and in money, there’s an uptick” in spending for technology to increase information flows, said Mark Lopes, deputy assistant administrator for Latin American and the Caribbean at the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The Festival Clic or “Click Festival” was hosted last week in Havana, Cuba, organized by bloggers on the island, most notably Yoani Sánchez, author of the blog Generación Y and founder of the Cuban Blogger Academy. The event had the support of the Spanish social web event EBE and the independent Cuban organization Estado de SATS , which generally evades government control, organizing debates, conferences and expositions about the future of Cuba and its transition towards democracy.
Cuba on Tuesday accused Google of "outrageous censorship" after the US Internet giant blocked access to a web traffic analysis tool to comply with US sanctions against Havana. Google Analytics, a free tool allowing website operators to see when people visit and from where, stopped working in Cuba after a software update that brought it in line with US restrictions.
On Tuesday, June 12, the Argentine Journalism Forum applauded the new public information access in the Misiones Province of Argentina, which was approved on June 7 by the provincial congress, and said that this "means a significant step forward for freedom of expression, state transparency, and citizens' rights in democracy."
In Brazil, Internet Surpasses Newspapers to Become Second-Most Preferred Medium for Advertising Investors
A report published by the Interacting Advertising Bureau, an association that brings together the main web sites and Internet portals in Brazil, said that the Internet has surpassed newspapers and has become the second-most preferred medium for advertising investments in Brazil during the first quarter of the 2012 year, reported iG.
A constitutional amendment was given final approval in Mexico yesterday [7 June] making attacks on the press a federal offence in Mexico. The amendment, passed by 16 state legislatures, allows federal authorities to investigate and punish crimes against journalists, persons or installations when the right to information or the right to expression is affected.
The current state of media freedom in Latin America was driven home in early May, when three journalists were murdered in Mexico within a week of World Press Freedom Day. This dramatic example underscores a larger trend identified by Freedom House in the recently released Freedom of the Press 2012 report, which noted that a range of negative developments over the past decade have left media freedom on the defensive in much of Central and South America.
Activists, business representatives, thinkers and policy makers are meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the Human Rights and Technology Conference, hosted by Access in partnership with the Center for Technology and Society from Getulio Vargas Foundation in Brazil. Speakers and participants discussed everything from social movements and digital natives, to Net Neutrality and the digital divide.
This paper is an exploration of the use of Internet technologies as tools that form a part of democracy promotion programs in authoritarian regimes by international development actors - in particular USAID. It discusses the role of developmment actors in democracy promotion, the role of the Internet and new media in democracy promotion and the impact this has had on Cuba's nascent Internet infrastructure. It asks questions about the role of development actors in the promotion of democracy, the emergence of online dissidents in Cuba and their impact on disucssions pertaining to a so-called "Cuban Spring" and the challenges of introducing the Internet into Cuba.
In executing its wars on terror and drugs, the United States has been aiding the adoption of surveillance technologies in Latin America for decades. In Colombia, these surveillance technologies have been repurposed to silence judges and opposition voices, demonstrating the ease with which they can be abused to subvert the rule of law in any democratic nation lacking robust checks and balances. Nevertheless, the US government recently unveiled a plan to help the Mexican government triple the size of a national surveillance system to assist with counternarcotics efforts. It's the latest example of the United States' quiet practice of helping foreign security agencies expand their reach, a trend that warrants close scrutiny. Amid Mexican government corruption, secrecy in the judiciary, and killings allegedly involving government security forces, activists are worried that a Mexican surveillance upgrade will only compromise the privacy of law-abiding citizens, affecting both Mexicans and their foreign contacts.
It was all sunshine, smiles and celebratory speeches as officials marked the arrival of an undersea fiber-optic cable they promised would end Cuba’s Internet isolation and boost web capacity 3,000-fold. Even a retired Fidel Castro had hailed the dawn of a new cyber-age on the island. More than a year after the February 2011 ceremony on Siboney Beach in eastern Cuba, and 10 months after the system was supposed to have gone online, the government never mentions the cable anymore, and Internet here remains the slowest in the hemisphere. People talk quietly about embezzlement torpedoing the project and the arrest of more than a half-dozen senior telecom officials.
Brazil’s president says the nation has nearly doubled its high-speed internet connections in the past year. President Dilma Rousseff says there are now 72 million such connections in Latin America’s largest nation. She says 6 million families have signed up for low-cost high-speed Internet access through the government’s four-year, $6 billion National Broadband Plan. The government aims to have 40 million households hooked up through the plan by 2014.
As of May 17th, Venezuelan netizens have reported through Twitter that the news website La Patilla might have been blocked by governmental ISP, Cantv.net.
Brazilians can now count on an Information Access Law to obtain data and non-secret government documents without having to provide justification for their information requests. The information access law went into effect on Wednesday, May 16, making Brazil one of 91 countries with freedom of informationlaws, reported ABC News and the newspaper Zero Hora. Also, the decree that regulates this law was signed by President Dilma Rousseff.
The Bolivian Senate has proposed a bill that would regulate social networks, and would be attached to the Law to Fight Against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination, reported the news site Eju TV. The anti-racism law was heavily criticized by journalists when it was approved in October 2010. Journalists say the law violates freedom of expression and instills self-censorship. According to the newspaper La Razón, lawmakers say the law is “necessary because it is about restraining discrimination and racism” that occurs on the Internet. But mostly, this law would avoid "discriminatory and offensive acts" against President Evo Morales, reported La Opinión.
The Bolivian Senate has proposed a bill that would regulate social networks, and would be attached to the Law to Fight Against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination, reported the news site Eju TV. The anti-racism law was heavily criticized by journalists when it was approved in October 2010. Journalists say the law violates freedom of expression and instills self-censorship. The idea to regulate social networks, presented by a lawmaker from the Movement Towards Socialism, Galo Bonifaz, and by the president of the Senate, Gabriela Montaño, caused much criticism among opposition who claim that this law would violate freedom of expression in the country, reported the newspaper La Opinión.
Cuba, with its authoritarian communist government in control of the Web, has the lowest Internet-penetration rate in the Western Hemisphere, with just 16 percent of its population online. Even earthquake ravaged Haiti, the hemisphere's poorest country, has a higher percentage of its people on the Internet. In Cuba, only government officials and foreigners can set up the Internet in their homes, and the vast majority of Cubans can't afford the fees charged at tourist hotels, where an hour of Internet equals about a quarter of the average Cuban's monthly salary.
All content presented in the Global Digital Digest is aggregated from public news sources. This information does not reflect the opinions of Internews, and is not produced or verified by Internews.