Argentina: New Commission Brings Internet Governance, Net Neutrality into Crosshairs

EspañolOn Wednesday, the Argentinean government created a new commission to “coordinate the participation of various stakeholders and to design a national strategy regarding the internet and its governance.” This move comes as international debate regarding the future of global governance of the internet is underway, and a day after the NetMundial conference was held in San Pablo, Brazil.

The Argentina Internet Policy Commission (CAPI), according to resolution No. 13 in the Official Gazette, will operate under the Secretariat of Communications and be self-regulated. The CAPI will then provide a formal regulatory plan within the new cyber paradigm launched by Brazil through its approval of the Internet Civil Framework, nicknamed the “Constitution of the Internet.”

According to a statement from Argentina’s Secretariat of Communications, the concept of internet governance that inspired the creation of the CAPI arose from the Information Society World Summit held in Tunis in 2005. The secretariat defines the new role as “the development and implantation by government, the private sector, and civil society of principles, rules, norms, decision-making procedures, and common programs that shape the evolution and use of the Internet.”

Further, according to the secretariat website, the CAPI will seek to improve the technical standards of the internet, and promote more and better representation for Argentina in international organizations related to internet governance.

The resolution, signed by Norberto Berner, head of the Secretariat of Communications, emphasizes the privacy of internet users, stating it will “take into account the legal and regulatory framework for the protection of personal data, privacy, spam, hacking, and cybercrime.”

Norberto Berner, communications secretary, at Net Mundial in São Paulo, Brazil, on internet governance.
Norberto Berner, communications secretary, at Net Mundial in São Paulo, Brazil, on internet governance.
Source: @SeCom_Oficial.

Beatriz Busaniche, of the Vía Libre Foundation, an organization dedicated to defending the rights of citizens engaged in information technology and the promotion of open software, told the PanAm Post that the creation of the CAPI is meant to provide structure for organized communication between all actors responsible for the proper function of the internet and to establish a clear public policy in this regard.

“Up until now, the responsibilities were scattered. We had one [agency] with the authority to protect data on one side, another for infrastructure, and another for domain registration,” explains Busaniche.

President of the Liberal-Libertarian Party of Argentina Gonzalo Blousson, on the other hand, expressed a resounding rejection of the creation of the CAPI.

“The creation of the Argentina Internet Policy Committee should be taken for what it is — an attempt to regulate the internet disguised as good intentions. We strongly oppose any attempt to control or regulate the internet, and it is our duty to defend one of the few places where freedom of expression is a reality.”

He added that the accelerated growth and development of the internet over the last few decades has occurred largely because governments have stayed clear of intervening or even adapting technical standards to support it — but this has changed in recent years, he says.

“Unfortunately, we’ve recently seen authoritarian governments around the world attempt to regulate the network in failed attempts to silence opposition voices and end the freedom of expression that characterizes the internet today.”

Net Neutrality under Scrutiny

Net neutrality is one of the leading topics that the CAPI will address, as discussed at this week’s Net Mundial summit in São Paulo, and it has been a topic of controversy across Latin America. The dispute, although broad, generally centers around the desire for the internet to remain free of restrictions on the type of content that can be published, the type of devices that the public can use to access it, and the notion that government, corporations, and internet service providers not restrict such access or develop schemes to encourage the consumption of one type of content over others.

Ensuring net neutrality is a stated objective for the CAPI, as well as the Internet Civil Framework approved unanimously by the Brazilian Senate on Tuesday. Dilma Rousseff, president of Brazil, stated during the World Internet Summit held in Sao Paulo that, “Brazil defends a multilateral, transparent, and democratic internet.”

Meanwhile, internet activists marched throughout Mexico this week, following a telecommunications proposal currently before the Senate with the approval of Mexico’s President, Enrique Peña Nieto. Luis Fernando García, of the Network for the Defense of Digital Rights, warns that Article 145 of the proposed legislation could weaken net neutrality. The article states that internet providers “may block access to certain content, applications, or services upon the request of the user or as ordered by appropriate authorities.”

Tim Beners-Lee, widely considered the “father of the internet,” has also joined the call for a global institutional framework to ensure net neutrality, and prevent it from becoming subject to commercial or political discrimination.

“There are many forces that seek to abuse the network,” he said.

Translated by Guillermo Jimenez.

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