A new telecommunications bill being considered by the Mexican government has many citizens of Mexico worried that Internet freedom may be put at risk if lawmakers decide to sign the bill into law. Those who oppose the new law say that it could open the door to a degree of Internet censorship that is found in China and other countries that strictly control and monitor telecommunications.
The Mexico telecom bill (Ley de Telecomunicaciones en México)
In June of 2013, the Mexican Congress approved a constitutional reform championed by President Enrique Pena Nieto’s administration. The new telecommunications bill being discussed in Mexico is part of an attempt to implement some aspects of the constitutional reform, but critics of the bill argue that it is not in line with Pieto’s ideas. Senator Javier Corral stated that the bill “betrays in its most important points” the reforms initiated by Nieto.
According to those who oppose the legislation, the Mexico telecommunications bill is worded in such a way that it will give the Mexican government an unprecedented level of control over the content of radio and television and that it will also give the government the ability to restrict what people say on the Internet. Many citizens see this bill as a doorway to full-blown censorship of the Internet in Mexico.
The actual wording of the bill states that authorities would be allowed to “temporarily block, inhibit, or annul telecommunications signals at events and places deemed critical for the public safety.” Many see this as similar to the recent events in Egypt and Russia, where the government effectively prevented some Internet access to delay or restrict the transmission of news and information regarding state protests.
Senator Emilio Gamboa, the leader of the ruling Industrial Revolutionary Party in the Senate and a supporter of the telecommunications bill, claims that the law would not censor Internet users. According to the International Business Times, the telecommunications business in Mexico is a $32 billion dollar industry. Supporters of Nieto claim that his reform is designed to bust the monopoly of telecommunications in Mexico. Carlos Slim Helu, the richest man in Latin America and a telecom tycoon disagrees. Carlos Domit, Helu’s son and chairman of Helu’s media empire, said that the bill is “worrying in its confiscatory elements.”
With the Mexican government set to debate the bill again in June, combatants are lining up on both sides of the issue. More on this here
Protesters say the bill opens up Internet censorship
On the weekend of April 26-27, 2014, protests against the telecommunications bill were carried out in Mexico City that culminated in physical confrontations. Protesters formed a human chain that was intended to start at the Los Pinos presidential residence, but police forced them back. The protesters were joined by Senator Corral and other members of the National Action Party who spoke at a rally following the protest.
The implications of the telecommunications bill could include restrictions that would affect what Internet users are allowed to post online. The government would be granted the ability to monitor Internet activity and prevent transmission of data it deems a threat to the public safety. Additionally, the government could force ISP’s to collect and provide data on their users.
This is concerning because similar Internet restrictions in places like China have led to the arrest of those who criticize the ruling government in Internet blogs and other news websites. The lines drawn by the bill are very broad, giving the Mexican government expansive power in deciding which information constitutes a threat.
If the bill ultimately passes the Mexican legislature, Internet users could find that many of the websites they routinely visit for news and information are subject to heavy censorship.
What happens now?
VPNaccounts.com likes to make its readers aware of any news that affects Internet freedom throughout the world. For the moment, Mexican lawmakers have retreated in their efforts to pass the bill. However, Mexico has a history of enacting legislation with very little warning or advance notice. The fact that government officials have backed off of the bill for the moment does not mean that it won’t be passed next week or next month.
We will continue to update this very important story as more details become available, so be sure to check back often for the latest news in the event that the telecommunications bill moves forward. This is also a great time for you to consider purchasing VPN service from us if you have not done so already. With a VPN in place you will not be caught unaware by government actions that seek to limit Internet freedom.