Global Digital Download - Latin America & the Caribbean 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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  • (Global Voices, Saturday, October 4, 2014)

    Reggae artiste Chronixx drew the ire of Lisa Hanna, Jamaica's minister of youth and culture, over his comments about the government's lack of support for the arts. Their online exchange has attracted great attention, not just because Jamaicans are passionate about their culture, but also because many were surprised that a government minister would respond to criticism using social media.  

  • (Global Voices, Saturday, October 4, 2014)

    Reggae artiste Chronixx drew the ire of Lisa Hanna, Jamaica's minister of youth and culture, over his comments about the government's lack of support for the arts. Their online exchange has attracted great attention, not just because Jamaicans are passionate about their culture, but also because many were surprised that a government minister would respond to criticism using social media.  d cultural festivities are now at the fingertips of millions in India.

  • (Telesur, Tuesday, September 30, 2014)
    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has described Latin America's plans to develop internet infrastructure bypassing the United States as a “very important project.” Dubbed the “digital ring,” the initiative will directly link the 12 member sates of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) by 2020. The digital ring will also extend beyond Latin America to South Africa, India, China and Russia.
  • (The Guardian, Monday, September 29, 2014)
    The Labour MP Stella Creasy has said that online intimidation is not being taken sufficiently seriously by police despite the jailing of a “Twitter troll” who threatened to rape her. The 18-week sentence imposed on Peter Nunn, 33, from Bristol, on Monday is one of the longer terms of imprisonment handed to anyone in England for posting menacing messages on social media. Earlier this month a Scottish man was given 16 months for obscene and racist comments made on Twitter.
  • (Colombia Reports, Monday, September 29, 2014)

    The Colombian government has promised to increase internet security measures after it was discovered on Saturday that hackers infiltrated the email accounts of a key negotiator in the Havana peace talks.

  • (The Huffington Post, Monday, September 29, 2014)

    On the one hand, judges and legislators, perhaps without exhaustively considering the consequences, "see" in this right the need to protect privacy; on the other hand, defenders of freedom of expression, access to information and the search for the truth "see" its disadvantages. 

  • (The Guardian, Friday, September 19, 2014)

    Paraguay has become the 100th country in the world to have a freedom of information (FOI) law, a milestone for Paraguay and for the transparency movement. A bedrock of government openness, FOI laws (also called right to know laws or access to information laws) have experienced several decades of explosive growth.

  • (Global Voices, Thursday, September 18, 2014)

    Ramiro Alvarez Ugarte, formerly a senior attorney at the Association for Civil Rights (Asociación por los Derechos Civiles) in Buenos Aires, Argentina and now a PhD student at Columbia University describes how the decision might impact the strong trend towards defamation lawsuits among Argentine celebrities and public figures.

  • (The Wall Street Journal, Sunday, September 7, 2014)

    Venezuelans aren't simply following the global trend from traditional to online news media. They have been forced to find alternatives as newspapers and broadcasters struggle with state efforts to control coverage, media watchdog groups say.

  • (Global Voices, Tuesday, September 2, 2014)

    Mexicans are rallying on Twitter in support of a film called “The Perfect Dictatorship” from director Luis Estrada under the hashtag #NoALaCensura (No to Censorship) for fear that the release of the biting satire of Mexico's politics could encounter resistance from authorities. The full-length film focuses on the abuse of power in managing the media and the use of video scandals (like the recent case of a video showing Mexican politicians with exotic dancers) by Mexico's politicians to hit at their rivals.

  • (Capitol Hill Cubans, Friday, August 29, 2014)

    A centerpiece of recent lobbying efforts by Cuba sanctions foes is for U.S. companies to be allowed to invest in the Castro regime's telecom monopoly ("ETECSA").

  • (IFEX, Wednesday, August 27, 2014)

    Last week was a bad one for freedom of expression in Brazil. Judge Paulo César de Carvalho, in the state court of Espírito Santo, issued a preliminary injunction ordering the removal of Secret—an anonymous sharing application that lets people share messages with friends, friends of friends, or publicly—from the Apple App store and Google Play store, as well as Cryptic (Secret's application for the Windows Phone) from Microsoft's store. The injunction also ordered the three companies to remove the applications from phones belonging to their Brazilian users.

  • (Mashable, Thursday, August 21, 2014)

    Internet users in Cuba — the few who have access to the web, that is — can now download Google's popular browser Chrome. Google announced that it made Chrome available in Cuba on Wednesday, blaming the delay on U.S. export controls and sanctions against the communist country.

  • (Ars Technica, Wednesday, August 20, 2014)

    On Monday, a Brazilian civil court in Vitória granted a preliminary injunction to a public prosecutor, prohibiting Apple and Google from distributing the anonymous sharing app Secret and Microsoft from distributing Secret's Windows Phone client, Cryptic. The injunction also said that the three app store proprietors had to remotely delete the app off Brazilian users' devices.

  • (Global Voices, Wednesday, August 20, 2014)

    The battle over Mexico's new telecom law continues, with many citizens fearful that the law could bring censorship and increased levels of surveillance to digital communications in the country. Advocates are looking to Mexico's autonomous Federal Institute for Access to Public Information and Data Protection (IFAI) for help. But the Institute says it will not challenge the proposed law in court. 

  • (Global Voices, Tuesday, August 19, 2014)

    The battle over Mexico's new telecom law continues, with many citizens fearful that the law could bring censorship and increased levels of surveillance to digital communications in the country. Advocates are looking to Mexico's autonomous Federal Institute for Access to Public Information and Data Protection (IFAI) for help. But the Institute says it will not challenge the proposed law in court.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Wednesday, August 13, 2014)

    Today, Mexico’s newest data retention law entered into force. The Mexican telecom law compels telecom providers to retain, for two years, the details of who communicates with whom, for how long, and from where. It also allows the authorities access to these details without a court order, exposing geolocation information that reveals the physical whereabouts of Mexicans. Across the Pacific, the Australian government plans to introduce a data retention mandate for Australian Internet Service Providers. These developments come on the heels of widespread opposition, and skepticism about whether blanket data retention mandates can ever be consistent with human rights law.

  • (UNESCO, Monday, August 11, 2014)

    Freedom of expression in general, and media development in particular, are core to UNESCO’s constitutional mandate to advance ‘the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication’ and promoting ‘the free flow of ideas by word and image.’ For UNESCO, press freedom is a corollary of the general right to freedom of expression. Since 1991, the year of the seminal Windhoek Declaration, which was endorsed by our Member States, UNESCO has understood press freedom as designating the conditions of media freedom, pluralism and independence, as well as the safety of journalists.

  • (IFEX, Thursday, August 7, 2014)

    When detained Cuban writer and blogger Angel Santiesteban-Prats disappeared from San Miguel del Padrón prison on 21 July, the authorities said he had escaped but his daughter managed to talk briefly with him in a police station ten days later. His present whereabouts are unknown.

  • (Reporters Without Borders, Tuesday, August 5, 2014)

    Venezuela’s year-old economic and social crisis has had a big impact on freedom of information. Physical attacks on journalists have hurt the climate for independent media and freely-reported news has become rare, adding information to the list of basic staples in short supply. During its last Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the UN Human Rights Council in October 2011, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela was asked to guarantee unrestricted access to state-held information as soon as possible. The government then led by Hugo Chávez rejected the request.

  • (Data Guidance, Wednesday, July 30, 2014)

    The Brazilian Consumer Protection and Defence Department (DPDC) fined - on 23 July 2014 - the country's largest telecommunications company Oi for failing to notify internet users that their browsing activities had been tracked and sold to third-party advertisers.

  • (Global Voices, Saturday, July 26, 2014)

    On a judicial ruling that sets a dangerous precedent in Colombia, the Supreme Court of Justice refused to reconsider an appeal taken on the verdict that orders 18 months of imprisonment and a 9,5 milon pesos fine (about US$5,1000) for netizen Gonzalo López for comments published on El País newspaper website, in the Colombian city of Cali. On 2008, López called Gloria Lucía Escalante, former officer at a public utilities company, a “rat”.

  • (IFEX, Friday, July 25, 2014)

    In many parts of the developing world, students face barriers to access academic materials. Libraries are often inadequate, and schools and universities are often unable to pay dues for expensive, specialized databases. For these students, the Internet is a vital tool and resource to access materials that are otherwise unavailable to them. Yet despite the opportunities enabled by the Internet, there are still major risks to accessing and sharing academic resources online. A current situation in Colombia exemplifies this problem: a graduate student is facing four to eight years in prison for sharing an academic article on the Internet. He wasn't making a personal profit from sharing the article—he simply intended for other scientists like him to be able to access and cite this scientific research.

  • (Global Voices, Wednesday, July 16, 2014)

    For those who figure that the issue of net neutrality doesn't affect them, Trinidad-based blogger Activized connects the dots. The concept that “all data is created equal” is not as common as you might think.

  • (Renesys, Monday, July 14, 2014)

    Brazil shouldn’t lose sight of one important silver lining to their World Cup cloud: the startlingly vibrant development of the Brazilian Internet, and the critical role Brazil now plays in the Internet connectivity and ICT development of South America.

  • (Global Voices, Saturday, July 12, 2014)

    A very short life had the controversial anti-meme draft law, announced on Thursday July 10 by Chilean congressman of Christian Democratic Party, Jorge Sabag, as informed on Chilean media. The goal of the project was to preserve “authorities’ dignity” on social networks. The project imposed fines for individuals who used the face of any State officer on a meme and even considered imprisonment for the user who created and shared this kind of images on cyberspace.

  • (Access, Wednesday, July 9, 2014)

    Despite vocal and active campaigns by internet users in Mexico and around the world, the Mexican Congress approved a dangerous telecoms bill that increases surveillance and data retention while sanctioning mobile network shutdowns. Access and our partners advocated against many provisions in the “Ley Telecom,” a massive reform bill which passed the Senate Friday, July 4 - in the midst of the World Cup - and the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday, July 9. While the bill limits the power of telecom monopolies, it also includes harsh surveillance mandates, and will likely be signed into law. However, the public pressure that delayed the bill’s passage also resulted in several key victories. In April, protests forced President Enrique Peña Nieto to back down and remove a clause allowing authorities to block internet content, services, or apps (article 145).

  • (Democracy Digest, Monday, July 7, 2014)

    A team of top Google executives visiting Cuba to promote open Internet access displayed “monumental ignorance,” on conditions in the Communist state, said an exiled Cuban intellectual.

  • (Reporters Without Borders, Friday, July 4, 2014)

    The senate has just approved the “Secondary Law on Telecommunications” that President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government proposed on 24 March. Reporters Without Borders is alarmed by the speed with which the bill is being adopted because some of its articles threaten freedom of information.

  • (Global Voices, Tuesday, June 24, 2014)

    The communications issue in Cuba is without a doubt one of the most followed and present topics in everyday Cuban life. The improbability of having fast and affordable access to new global telecommunication services has become a popular theme amongst not only those on the island, but anywhere Cubans reside, because of the impact it has on relationships with family members and friends.

  • (Global Voices, Tuesday, June 24, 2014)

    Over the course of the last month, several blogs and media outlets have reported on the dismantling of wifi networks in the capital city of Havana, Cuba, by the country's authorities.

  • (Global Voices Advocacy, Monday, June 23, 2014)

    Mexican citizens are fighting a telecommunications law proposed by President Enrique Peña Nieto and currently before the Senate. The draft law could present a serious threat to human rights online: it violates net neutrality, allows censorship and content blocking, and requires service providers to collect and retain users’ personal data at a broad level.

  • (Symantec, Friday, June 20, 2014)

    This report provides an overview of cybersecurity and cybercrime-related developments in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2013. It assesses the major trends in the region in terms of the threats to the cyber domain and those who depend on it, from government institutions to private enterprises to individual users. It also takes stock of the advances made by government authorities to better address the challenges they face in an increasingly connected and ICT-dependent world.

  • (Arizona Daily Star, Friday, June 20, 2014)

    Cuba has suddenly unblocked access to several websites censored for years because of their criticism. But it was not immediately clear if the change was temporary or permanent.

  • (Index on Censorship, Tuesday, June 17, 2014)

    With the adoption of a progressive legislation on internet rights, Brazil is taking the lead in digital freedom. Digital technologies have provided new opportunities for freedom of expression in the country, but have also come with new attempts to regulate content and strong inequalities between those with and without access to the internet. Old problems like violence against journalists, media concentration and the influence of local political leaders over judges and other public agents persist.

  • (Index on Censorship, Monday, June 9, 2014)

    In the wake of a global internet conference – Netmundial – and the signing of a groundbreaking domestic internet law – Marco Civil – Brazil has the potential to become an influential leader in digital rights. But that will depend on key choices and decisions taken in the coming weeks and months. Drawing on interviews with leading figures in Brazilian civil society, internet businesses, politicians and journalists conducted in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in February 2014, the paper analyses the country’s increasing profile in global internet governance debates and the consequences of its domestic internet policies.

  • (WorldCrunch, Friday, May 30, 2014)

    The battle between privacy and freedom of information on the Internet is clearly global. While Google has just announced that it will comply with a European Union court ruling to give its citizens the right to delete digital information, Argentina's Supreme Court is weighing the arguments of a case brought by model María Belén Rodríguez against search engines Yahoo! and Google for allegedly directing users to porn sites when they type her name. Lawyers for the Internet companies have argued that search engines should be able to show the contents of websites without incurring legal responsibility. But María Belén's lawyer Alejandro Arauz Castex said this was causing enormous harm. "You type Belén into the search engine and the first result is María Belén Rodríguez nude, and if you continue, there's a page with pornography. Not philosophy or literature, but pornography," he said.

  • (Committee to Protect Journalists, Thursday, May 22, 2014)

    As has been widely reported, Cuba is now home to a new, independent digital newspaper. 14ymedio went live Wednesday and looks to be a true Web 2.0 animal. The site has loads of interactive links to social media and a smart design that allows readers to easily convert content into a PDF or text file for quick downloading and sharing in the Cuban offline world. The site also smartly avoids gratuitous insults and facile language about "the bloody dictator," preferring to illustrate what it stands for. The goal of 14ymedio is to provide a civil, objective, and critical space for the kind of quality journalism that is necessary, in founder, Yoani Sanchez's words, "to accompany Cuba during its inevitable transition to democracy." 

  • (The Wall Street Journal, Wednesday, May 21, 2014)

    Cuba's state-run Communist media got a bit of unwelcome competition on Wednesday from the island's best-known dissident blogger. Yoani Sánchez, who has some 608,000 Twitter followers—nearly 10 times the official Granma newspaper and five times President Raúl Castro—introduced Cuba's first independent, general-interest website. Ms. Sánchez, 38 years old, said the newspaper had no ideological agenda and was committed to defending "truth, liberty and human rights." But the project, called "14ymedio," was promptly hacked after it went live on Wednesday morning, redirecting viewers inside Cuba to a website critical of Ms. Sánchez. The cyberattack didn't affect off-island viewers.

  • (Access, Tuesday, May 20, 2014)

    Authorities in the United States and Mexico appear to have conspired to take down a political website, and the incident is being swept under the rug, setting a dangerous precedent. Access recently reported that, a site featuring user-submitted content on police abuse at political demonstrations in Mexico, was blocked from December 2013 through March 2014 by its domain host GoDaddy. Despite repeated requests by Access and our local partners, agencies on both sides of the border have refused to comment. If no answer is received by May 27, a lawsuit over the incident will be dismissed.

  • (Office of American States, Wednesday, May 14, 2014)

    The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)—responsible for overseeing States’ compliance with the Pact of San Jose—has published guiding principles that protect the right to freedom of thought and expression online. Two weeks ago, the IACHR Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion, Catalina Botero, published a landmark report on Freedom of Expression and the Internet. The 81-page report establishes unequivocally that States which have ratified the American Convention on Human Rights have the obligation to protect freedom of thought and expression online. The right to freedom of expression in all its manifestations plays a central role in the American Convention. 

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Monday, May 5, 2014)

    In Mexico City last week, protestors formed a human chain to demonstrate their opposition to Ley de Telecomunicaciones y Radiodifusión, the telecommunications and broadcasting law that President Enrique Peña Nieto introduced at the end of March. The protest came on the heels of a Global Day of Action Against Censorship in Mexico and a March Against Silence which drew thousands of protestors. "Ley Telecom," which supporters pass off as a set of much-needed reforms to Mexico's telecommunications sector, is a leap in the wrong direction for freedom of expression and privacy. 

  • (Article 19, Wednesday, April 30, 2014)

    Produced by ARTICLE 19 South America, the report Violations of Freedom of Expression 2013 [Click for Portuguese version] documents crimes against free expression that were carried out against  journalists and human rights defenders in Brazil in 2013. The report focuses on the most serious violations including death threats, abductions, attempted murders and killings. It suggests the possible reasons for these violations and the people likely to be responsible for them. It also shows where in the country they took place, region by region. Among the journalists who suffered violations in 2013 were a wide range of media workers, including reporters, radio broadcasters, bloggers, investigative reporters, TV presenters, photographers, cartoonists, and community journalists.

  • (Tech Eye, Tuesday, April 29, 2014)

    It seems that Brazil's coppers have not received the memo about the country's much trumpeted internet privacy law. Due to a secret lawsuit by the judiciary against Radio Muda, the oldest independent radio station working in Brazil, Saravá's main server was confiscated this week. Sarava is a research group that for the past 10 years has offered gratis technological infrastructure, political thinking and autonomous and secure communication resources to research groups and social movements.

  • (The Washington Post, Thursday, April 24, 2014)

    Brazil’s president signed into law on Wednesday a “Bill of Rights” for the digital age that aims to protect online privacy and promote the Internet as a public utility by barring telecommunications companies from charging for preferential access to their networks. The law signed by President Dilma Rousseff at a global conference on the future of Internet governance puts Brazil in the vanguard of online consumer protection and what is known as “net neutrality,” whose promoters consider it profoundly democratic in part because it keeps financial barriers for innovators low.

  • (Blouin News, Thursday, April 24, 2014)

    Protests lining the streets of Mexico City on April 23 surround a particularly controversial telecom reform bill proposed by President Enrique Peña Nieto that would overhaul the telecom industry in Mexico in a host of ways. But the bill has made enemies for Peña Nieto across Mexico’s economic divide.Protesters claim that the reform bill amounts to nixing net neutrality in Mexico, that it puts too much power in the hands of regulators to decide pricing and access to internet and airwaves. Indeed, Reuters reports that the bill, proposed in March, that is currently under review in the Senate titled “Ley Federal de Telecomunicaciones y Radiodifusión” gives the country’s regulatory body — the Federal Telecommunications Institute — sweeping powers to order companies to sell assets, revoke concessions and share networks and infrastructure.

  • (ABC News, Wednesday, April 23, 2014)

    Mexico's governing party appeared to step away on Wednesday from a proposal that would authorize officials to block Internet and telecom signals, pulling back a day after anti-censorship protests that ended in clashes in Mexico City. Sen. Emilio Gamboa, leader of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party in the Senate, said proposed communications legislation would be changed to avoid a distracting debate over issues that he said were never central to the proposal.

  • (TechWorld, Tuesday, April 22, 2014)

    Brazil's Federal Senate has passed a proposed Internet law that aims to guarantee freedom of expression and privacy to the country's Internet users, and also requires foreign Internet service providers to fall in line with the country's rules. The bill was passed Tuesday, a day ahead of the start of a global Internet governance conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and requires the assent of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff.

  • (The Miami Herald, Monday, April 21, 2014)

    A program financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development to develop the technology for a novel Wi-Fi network in Cuba has not been deployed on the island and is under review, a USAID spokesman said Monday. USAID approved the grant to the Open Technology Institute (OTI) in Washington in 2012 as part of the agency’s efforts to promote Internet freedom, democracy and civil society in Cuba, said Matt Herrick, a spokesman for the agency. USAID drew a lot of fire from critics of its Cuba programs after the Associated Press reported earlier this month that it financed a Twitter-like system for Cubans. The agency said the system was not secret but had to be “discreet” because of Cuba’s “non-permissive environment.

  • (The Latin Times, Monday, April 21, 2014)

    #EPNvsInternet is a hashtag that has completely taken over Mexican social media today. The hashtag is a sign of protest from young Mexicans angry at a new law being driven forward by President Enrique Peña Nieto which might curb freedom of expression on the Internet. The hashtag has been used 33,000 times so far and is the second most trending topic on Twitter worldwide. This is the biggest viral protest in Mexico this year. So what exactly is everyone up in arms about?

  • (Article 19, Monday, April 14, 2014)

    ARTICLE 19 welcomes the adoption of the Marco Civil da Internet (Civil Rights Framework for the Internet) by the Chambers of Deputies on 25 March 2014. The bill needs to be approved by the Senate before it can be signed by the President. “Adoption of the Marco Civil is vital to ensure protection of the right to freedom of expression online in Brazil. ARTICLE 19 supports this law, although it could be improved further,” said Paula Martins, Director of ARTICLE 19 South America.

  • (Global Voices, Thursday, April 10, 2014)

    In Ecuador, the debate continues over compensatory remuneration for private copying, also known as the private copying levy. The debate was sparked by regulations proposed by the Ecuadorian Institute of Intellectual Property (IEPI, according to its Spanish name) that would impose an additional tax of 4%-10% on the importation of all music and video devices, such as cellphones, personal computers, and tablets, as well as blank media (CDs, DVDs, etc).

  • (Global Voices, Tuesday, April 8, 2014)

    Data collection in the Caribbean has traditionally been a clunky exercise, heavily dependent on phone calls and focus groups – but ever since mSurvey (a mobile surveys company which started in Kenya) set up shop in Trinidad and Tobago, the region has started to experience data collection very differently. The company recently undertook its largest project to date, “interviewing” more than 11,000 people across Trinidad and Tobago, all via mobile phones and SMS, in less than three weeks. The survey was commissioned by the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT), the regulatory body for telecommunications in the country, in an effort to assess the gap that exists between people in the twin island republic who have access to basic telecommunications and broadcasting services and those who do not

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Monday, April 7, 2014)

    Last February, the Colombian media revealed that the country’s intelligence service carried out widespread surveillance of key NGOs, journalists, and leftist politicians, including their own governmental team responsible for negotiating a peace agreement with the Colombian guerilla. Fundacion Karisma, a Colombian NGO focusing on human rights in the digital age, along with other Colombian NGOs, sent a letter this week to the Colombian President requesting the ability to participate in a high-level commission responsible for revising and analysing the national intelligence legal framework. This secretive committee currently includes government officials, national security experts and “selected” private sector companies—but no representatives from the NGO community.

  • (Mashable, Friday, April 4, 2014)

    A misguided attempt by the U.S. government to create a Twitter-like social network in Cuba — which ended with $1.6 million spent and just 40,000 users to show for it — has put the state of the Internet on the communist island back on the spotlight. Cuba has long been one of the least connected countries in the world. Indeed, the country rivals North Korea in the extent to which it has shut itself out from the Internet. Here are five things you need to know about Internet freedom in Cuba, a country that blogger and Cuban dissident Yoani Sanchez calls "the Island of the disconnected."

  • (The Washington Post, Thursday, April 3, 2014)

    According to documents obtained by The Associated Press and multiple interviews with people involved in the project, USAID's plan was to develop a bare-bones “Cuban Twitter,” using cellphone text messaging to evade Cuba’s strict control of information and its stranglehold restrictions over the Internet. In a play on Twitter, it was called ZunZuneo — slang for a Cuban hummingbird’s tweet. Documents show the U.S. government planned to build a subscriber base through “non-controversial content”: news messages on soccer, music, and hurricane updates. 

  • (Access, Wednesday, March 26, 2014)

    Last night, Brazil´s Congress approved the "Marco Civil," a landmark piece of legislation comprehensively protecting human rights online. The vote follows closely on the heels of the Web´s 25th anniversary and Sir Tim Berners-Lee call for a "Magna Carta" of the internet. Brazil is the first country in the world to hear that call. Effectively, the Marco Civil creates a bill of rights for the Brazilian internet, a first for the world.The Marco Civil was originally drafted by means of an open and collaborative online process. From the time it became clear that Brazil needed a bill of rights for the internet, it also became clear that the internet itself could and should be used to draft it. An 18-month consultation process followed, including contributions from a variety of stakeholders. It was truly a hybrid and transparent forum: users, civil society organizations, telcos, governmental agencies, all provided comments side-by-side. Each contributor could see the others’ contributions, and all cards on the table had to be considered.

  • (Global Voices, Wednesday, March 12, 2014)

    Internet rights activists were in Brasilia on 3/12 to pressure the National Congress to approve the Brazilian bill of rights for Internet users, known as the Marco Civil.

  • (Index on Censorship, Tuesday, March 11, 2014)

    Brazil’s government and security forces have put themselves on a war footing ahead of this summer’s FIFA World Cup, hosted by the South American country. The security apparratus designed to stop demonstrations from disrupting the tournament consists of a set of procedures for general intelligence and data surveillance during the conduct of major sporting events – both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, which will be held in Rio. It is a strategically integrated operation involving the Ministries of Defence and Justice, the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (Abin), the Armed Forces, the Metropolitan Polices, the Federal Police and the Highway Police. In addition to high-tech security equipment, the security plan could see state agents embedded in demonstrations.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Tuesday, March 4, 2014)

    The Mexican website, was set up in the wake of a set of controversial December 1st 2012 protests against the inauguration of the new President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto. For a year, the site served as a source of information, news, discussion and commentary from the point of view of the protestors. As the anniversary of the protests approached, the site grew to include organized campaign against proposed laws to criminalize protest in the country, as well as preparations to document the results of a memorial protest, planned for December 1, 2013.

  • (Reporters Without Borders, Friday, February 28, 2014)

    Reporters Without Borders reiterates its call for the release of  Cuban Angel Santiesteban-Prats, a writer who completes a year in detention today and who began a blog in 2008 called Los hijos que nadie quisothat was openly critical of the government. Santiesteban-Prats was arrested on 28 February 2013 to begin serving the five-year jail sentence on trumped-up charges of “home violation” and “injuries” that he received at the end of a hasty and arbitrary trial on 8 December 2012. No hard evidence was produced in support of the charges.

  • (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Thursday, February 20, 2014)

    For the last month, Venezuela has been caught up in widespread protests against its government. The Maduro administration has responded by cracking down on what it claims as being foreign interference online. As that social unrest has escalated, the state's censorship has widened: from the removal of television stations from cable networks, to the targeted blocking of social networking services, and the announcement of new government powers to censor and monitor online. Last night, EFF received reports from Venezuelans of the shutdown of the state Internet provider in San Cristóbal, a regional capital in the west of the country. The censorship began early last week when the authorities removed a Columbian news network, NTN24, from Venezuelan cable, and simultaneously published a reminder that TV stations could be in violation of a law that forbids the incitement or promotion of "hatred", or "foment citizens' anxiety or alter public order." Venezuelan Internet users on a variety of ISPs lost connectivity last Thursday to an IP address owned by the content delivery network, Edgecast. That address provided access to, among other services, Twitter's images at A separate block prevented Venezuelans from reaching the text hosting site, Pastebin.

  • (Global Voices, Wednesday, February 19, 2014)

    Recent amendments to Brazil's pioneer bill of rights for Internet users, the “Marco Civil da Internet” (Internet Civil Rights Framework), put net neutrality and users’ privacy at stake. The bill is expected to be voted on by Congress during the last week of February 2014. Activists have launched an online campaign asking for the removal of one of the new provisions, Article 16, that mandates service providers to store personal data of their users. The hashtag in use is #16igualNSA (“Article 16 leans towards NSA surveillance”). Joana Varon, a Brazilian researcher from the Center for Technology and Society at Fundação Getúlio Vargas, points to an article on the PrivacyLatam blog as the “most accurate post in English regarding changes on #privacy protection at #marcocivil".

  • (TelecomPaper, Wednesday, January 29, 2014)

    Cuban operator Etecsa plans to launch mobile internet services in the second half of this year, Cuban news agency ACN report, citing unnamed company directors. The service will initially be available in the Havana capital area. Etecsa customers will soon be able to access e-mail services, browse the internet, as well as transfer airtime to other Etecsa mobile customers. According to the same source, Etecsa also plans to reduce the rates of its voice and international SMS services, as well as allow its customers to pay for various services directly from their mobile phones.

  • (Internet Policy Observatory, Monday, January 20, 2014)

    In the summer of 2013, Edward Snowden’s extraordinary leaks about U.S. National
    Security Agency (NSA) surveillance destabilized the foundations of international Internet governance. Speaking at the UN General Assembly on September 24, 2013, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff denounced NSA spying in the strongest terms. This created fears among many Internet governance organizations that all Western-oriented Internet governance institutions would be held responsible for the NSA’s actions, and that trust and cooperation on the Internet would break down into national walled gardens. One result was that the heads of the world’s leading Internet organizations, including ICANN, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the IETF’s parent organization the Internet Society, all five regional Internet address registries, and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) issued a statement decrying the NSA activities and calling for the “globalization” of ICANN and the IANA functions.

  • (The Guardian, Thursday, January 9, 2014)

    It is one thing to say the internet can broaden people's horizons – but a Brazilian project is literally aiming for the skies, putting isolated communities online using balloons that transmit internet signals. The Conectar (Portuguese for "connect") project, which is being overseen by Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE), is not the first to launch balloons in an effort to bring internet-transmitting stations to hard-to-reach locations such as rainforests. In June 2013, Google ran a pilot test for a similar venture known as the Loon project. Some in the development community say the project is misguided as it fails to address poor people's most urgent needs. But Jose Ângelo Neri, an INPE researcher, says his organisation's project and the Google scheme should not be compared as they are different technologies and independent proposals. "The balloon will work as a transmission tower," he says. "Being at an altitude above conventional towers – 300 metres from the ground – it will reach a large area through wireless connections."