Censorship plan on Internet regulation in Mexico


The initiative Telecommunications Act and Broadcasting Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto sent to the Senate includes articles on Internet regulation that created controversy over the possibility that offer leeway to authorities to intervene in the network control.

Two articles focus doubts about the adequacy of standards as they have been submitted. In the 145 is said to Internet servers may “block access to certain content, applications or services at the express request of the user, except upon order of authority or contrary to any regulations”. Article 197 the power is fixed “block, inhibit or reverse temporarily telecommunications signals critical events and places for public and national security at the request of the competent authorities”.

Experts and activists participated last week in Senate open discussion sessions on the law and criticism arose. The basic and widespread objection is that the regulations are passages that are too vague about limiting the ability of state intervention, and that motivates the concern that the law gives room for any restrictions episodes of civil conquests as the right to freedom of expression and the right to information.

“Items need an accurate and less open to interpretation wording”, says Mony de Swaan, president of the Federal Telecommunications Commission (2010-2013). “I see a risk of censorship. That margin of interpretation is dangerous”. De Swaan missing that unambiguously define what authorities have powers of control and what kind of regulations specified may conflict with services and Internet content. The former official says the state's ability to intervene in the network control is necessary and desirable whenever defined according to parameters subject to law and without a trace of ambiguity.

From the president's party, the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party), assume that some items will have to be reworked. “Not everything is closed, is under discussion”, grants a party spokesman revealing that there is room for maneuver to address controversial issues. Yet, underline the relevance of combining the space of freedom of expression with the need for security. According to the PRI Senator Omar Fayad, “there is a need to interrupt communications on national security. Not in any event, eye. It is a national security issue. The law is made to restrict freedom of anyone and will be clear in the legislation. These items must be reviewed carefully”.

The academic Raul Trejo Delarbre, president of the Mexican Association of Right to Information, states that the vagueness of certain gray areas of the law leads to fear that the law is conducive for a “authoritarian presidential”. Alejandro Hope, security expert, also notes the crack of vague wording and signs of excessive government power: “The fundamental problem with this bill is that there seems to be no judicial control. There is a clear problem of writing”, although he concedes that, in due form, the executive must have the ability to take extraordinary measures; for example, to fight crime.

Until last week's debate in the Senate, the focus of discussion and media attention to the Telecommunications Act was only the question of the fight against excessive market power of two corporations: Televisa, audiovisual and broadcasting, and America Movil, Carlos Slim, telephony. But the discussion in the Senate has opened the gap on civil rights controversy.

One participant in the public hearings of the Senate, Jesus Robles Maloof, of Collective Internet Free for All, Mexico asserts that the project “It is the largest authoritarian challenge since the Internet exists”. Claudio Cossio, CEO of interesante.com, affects the vagueness of the rules: “Many points remain open. Making excuses of national security or to combat narco, some authorities may apply censorship. Citizens were helpless in these cases”. Luis Fernando Garcia, lawyer NGO Network in Defense of Digital Rights, Article Alert 197 (which may be suspended fixed Internet service “events and safety critical public and national places”) supposed to give the government the ability to restrict the ability to communicate through social protests; in their words: “Is to lower the communications switch to prevent the organization of protesters and denouncing human rights violations during protests”