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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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.
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