Nicaragua’s Ortega Targets “Full Control” of the Internet

By: PanAm Post Staff - May 14, 2015, 11:31 am

EspañolNicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is planning to send a law to the National Assembly that would give control of the internet to a state-run corporation. The body will be authorized to manage broadband connections, decide on concessions to provide the service, and demand users’ personal information.

Allies of President Ortega’s have expressed concern over a bill that would control internet access. (Nicanoticias)

The Promotion and Development of the National Network of Broadband Telecommunication Service Act is yet to be discussed by the National Assembly. However, it is likely that the 63 legislators of the pro-government bloc would allow the initiative to pass.

The bill has been met with condemnation from across Nicaraguan society.

Provoking particular concern is a provision which allows the government-run Institute of Telecommunications and Mails (Telcor) to force internet service providers to disclose their personal information.

Telcor will also be authorized to gather technical, financial, and economic information for statistical and price-setting purposes.

The Nicaraguan Internet Association, independent analysts, and civil liberties NGOs say that the law could lead to widespread violation of the privacy of Nicaragua’s internet users.

Jose Adán Aguerri, chairman of the Council of Private Business (COSEP), and who has strong ties with the Ortega administration, expressed concerns over the bill and claimed “it aims for full control of the internet.”

“It runs against the efforts of the public and private sector to attract investment. It also runs against economic freedom,” he added.

PEN International, an NGO focused on free speech, stated in a press release that it “categorically rejects state control of communications, as a violation of the inalienable right to freedom of expression, privacy of individuals, and unrestricted access of citizens to the content available on the internet.”

In 2013, Telcor affirmed that the government had no intention of intercepting people’s communications.

Sources: El País.

Ecuadorian Daily La Hora Fined for Not Covering Mayor’s Event

By: PanAm Post Staff - May 14, 2015, 10:25 am
La Hora said it has covered similar acts in that town, however, authorities went on and fined the outlet. (La Hora)

EspañolEcuadorian daily La Hora will have to pay a fine of more than US$3,500 for not covering an event held by the mayor of the city of Loja, the newspaper reported on Thursday, May 14. Mayor José Bolívar Castillo filed a complaint against the daily after La Hora reporters failed to publish an article about a public rendering of municipal accounts, despite inviting them to do so. The Superintendency of Communications (Supercom), the country's media regulation authority, launched an investigation into the allegations and found that between February 23 and February 29 the daily hadn't published any article related to Castillo's official act. La Hora was charged with "deliberate and recurrent omission of reporting public-interest issues," which according to the authorities is a "legal obligation that must be complied by every media outlet." Defense lawyer Santiago Guarderas argued that the daily published 79 articles related to the local government between January 2 and February 21, many of which related to the issues Castillo addressed at his event. Guarderas added that Supercom has yet to define the meaning of "public-interest issue," and should as such refrain from imposing sanctions based on that concept. The authorities, however, said that the concept is "fully defined" in law. Vicente Ordoñez, chair of the National Union of Journalists, called the Supercom resolution "absurd" and warned that the government is trying to establish a monopoly over the media. "This ruling seemingly confirms that the intention of the government was to get under control the information disseminated via the media," he added. La Hora similarly described the decision as "a grave precedent" against freedom of expression. "From now onwards, any activity that a public official (elected or administratively designated ) considers as being of public interest and is not published in the pages of newspapers, or on radio or television, will be considered as prior censorship," read a statement by the paper. "In this way, what it will achieve is to fill the media with government information, thus only jeopardizing the citizen, who will receive information directed solely from the state," it concluded. Source: La Hora.

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