Español Argentinean Senator Sandra Giménez proposed a bill on June 30 that would compel internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to a list of restricted websites as determined by the National Communications Commission (CNC). The bill is meant to target child pornography and, if passed, would impose fines on ISPs who refuse to comply with the new filters.
According to Article 3 of the bill, a user could continue to freely access the internet without filters by opting-in and requesting unrestricted access in writing. Absent this request by individual users, ISPs will be required to install corresponding filters to block access to the list of banned sites maintained by the CNC.
Should the bill be enacted, internet providers must impose filters on “all existing users” within 180 days. Failure to do so will result in a fine equal to ten times the rate paid by customers during the billing period in which filters should have been in place.
“This bill aims to reduce the exposure of minors to sexual content through predetermined filters limiting access to restricted sites, which will be permanently identified by the enforcement authority. Therefore, all internet users, unless having expressly stated their desire for unrestricted access, will be blocked from sites identified as having sexual content,” reads the bill.
Giménez, a medical surgeon, says her proposal is intended to protect “our families” from “inappropriate” content on the internet, which can have a “high potential for harm” due to the vulnerability of minors.
“This is why restricting access to predetermined sites is an adequate alternative to guarantee safe internet use in a family environment,” the senator assured.
This Site Yes, This Site No
Article 2 of the bill stipulates that the list of banned sites will be updated and decided upon through an “agreed upon strategy of the Argentinean Internet Policy Commission.”
According to the proposal, if the internet has substantially improved our quality of life, it has also brought with it “deviant behaviors” that threaten the values of our society.
“Of these, perhaps the most alarming is the distribution and consumption of child pornography, which is a criminal phenomenon that has spread due to the multitude of distribution channels the internet offers,” the bill explains.
Beatriz Busaniche, a member of the Vía Libre foundation, expert in intellectual property, and an activist for free speech on the internet, says that neither the CNC, nor Senator Sandra Giménez, has the legal authority to decide what people can or cannot view on the internet.
The National Commission of Communications has a precedent for attempting to block certain internet sites. On June 30, it sent out a letter to Argentinean ISPs ordering them to block access to the popular torrent site The Pirate Bay (TPB) within five days.
The Argentinian Chamber of Phonograms (CAPIF) initiated the move to block The Pirate Bay, which functions as a search engine for free downloads of virtually any type of media.
In response to the block, hackers briefly took over the CAPIF website and used it to redirect visitors to a TPB proxy site.
Regarding the block on The Pirate Bay, Busaniche told Ventitres magazine that the move was completely disproportionate. “It goes completely against active free expression laws in Argentina, as law 26.032 guarantees free access. When the judge made the order to block the site, he was saying that the information on the site did not merit this guarantee,” she explained.
The English Case
Senator Giménez’s bill is similar to the law English Prime Minister David Cameron introduced in July 2013. The English law established filters to restrict access to phonographic websites, but allowed internet users full access upon written request — the same policy proposed by the Argentinean senator.
According to Cameron, access to pornography was corrupting the youth in England and it was his responsibility to do something about it.
Some of the controversy surrounding these restrictions stems from the inability of internet filters to adequately distinguish between pornographic sites and sites that promote sex education or advice on sex addition.
After the filters were put in place in England, the website goawaycameron.co.uk went online and allowed users to bypass the filter through a simple Google Chrome extension.