What were the main digital policy regional updates in Latin America? This space brings you the main updates month by month, summarised by the observatory's curators.
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25 Jun 2018 |
Journalists and non-governmental organisations have reported that the Tor network has been blocked by Venezuela’s largest state-owned Internet service provider CANTV. Traffic on the Tor network had recently increased in the country, following blocks that had affected news outlets. Activists said that the first blocks could be avoided by simply changing DNS settings to an international server, while a second wave of blocks demanded the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and the anonymous browsing capabilities of the Tor network to circumvent the ban. According to technical evidence collected and presented by local activists, a more complex measure was then taken, blocking vanilla connections as well as obfs3 and obfs4 bridges, with a high rate of success in preventing users from accessing the Internet.
21 Jun 2018 |
The governments, the private sector and the civil society in the Dominican Republic and in Guatemala have worked together for almost two years, with the support from Organization of American States (OAS), through the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE) and the Cyber Security Program, and have now joined eight other Latin American countries in putting a national cybersecurity strategy in place. Their aim is to contribute to a cyberspace that is safer for citizens, businesses and public administration in the countries. For Luis Almagro, Secretary-General of the OAS, the adoption of the strategies is an important first step, but it is only the beginning of a process that should continue developing security capabilities for cyberspace, always taking into account the voices of the relevant stakeholders.
29 May 2018 |
The coming into force of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has already triggered repercussions in Latin America, a region where the GDPR is influencing other reform initiatives, as is the case with Argentina reviewing their data protection legal framework. On 29 May, the first data protection bill was finally approved by the lower house in the Brazilian Parliament. The bill reflects many of the approaches, tools and mechanisms of the GDPR, although there is still a bit of uncertainty concerning certain issues, for example, the legal nature and shape of the national data protection authority. The bill still has to go through the Senate on a second reading, but both the government and the opposition have already stated that it is a priority, which makes it very likely that Brazil will have its first data protection law by the end of the year.
15 May 2018 |
The Chilean Congress approved a bill aimed at updating the country's data protection framework. The government and Congress agreed on the creation of a personal data protection authority in Chile and enshrined the protection of personal data as a constitutional right. The new legislation takes into account many elements of the EU General Regulation on Data Protection, which took effect on 25 May.
9 May 2018 |
On 9 May, the Chamber of Deputies in Brazil approved the Complementary Law Project (PLP) 441/17, which makes participation in the Positive Credit Registry – a system that gathers information on payments made by Brazilian citizens and authorises financial institutions to include consumer information in the system, regardless of specific authorisation – compulsory. The new legislation, if also approved by the Senate, will authorise the automatic inclusion of all consumer information necessary to create an individual’s credit scoring, into a unique database accessible to all financial institutions. The bill has been welcomed by representatives of the financial sector and criticised by consumer associations and digital rights advocates, who opposed the proposal’s approval.
8 May 2018 |
On 8 May, the Superior Court of Justice (STJ), the highest appellate court in Brazil, issued a decision on the right to be forgotten. The court ruled in favour of the de-indexation of search results, highlighting the pivotal role of search engines in order to find information, but stressing that de-indexation can only happen as a result of a court injunction. The STJ issued the decision within the context of a case involving a public prosecutor form the Rio de Janeiro State, who filed a lawsuit against Google, Yahoo and Microsoft in 2009, requesting the de-indexation of Internet search results associating her name to reports about suspected fraud in the Rio de Janeiro State Magistrate's Exam.
5 May 2018 |
Nicaragua has been the scene of a series of protests initiated against a reform of the social security law. Hacktivist groups are coordinating DDoS attacks against the government and the government’s member portals and pro-government social network accounts. The group behind the operation, called #OpNicaragua, has already carried out the publication of the private information of various public figures that are part of the government and the ruling Sandinista Front.
22 Mar 2018 |
The murder of Rio de Janeiro city councillor, Marielle Franco, and her driver Anderson Gomes, has had an impact on the scenario of digital rights in Brazil. Marielle had participated in November 2017, in the national preparatory meeting for the IGF on a panel discussing the role of technology in fighting gender, race, and social inequality. After the murder, a lawsuit was filed in Brazil demanding the removal of 38 videos, that according to Marielle’s family, contained hate messages and offended her dignity and memory by suggesting she was connected to drug dealers and organised crime. A judge in Rio ruled that 16 out of the 38 videos actually contain abuse of the exercise of freedom of speech, and ordered YouTube to take them down, on March 22. YouTube was given 72 hours to comply, after which, a daily fine of R$ 1000 would apply. A pool of civil rights lawyers also started campaigning to identify and crowdsource the filing of lawsuits all over the country concerning the same alleged attacks by individual posts on social networks. We are yet to hear about these lawsuits.
15 Mar 2018 |
A period of consultations is now open for the Latin American and the Caribbean Internet Governance Forum (LACIGF), the regional preparatory meeting for the IGF. The organisation expects the community to help define the agenda of the meeting and the topics for discussion. From 15 March to 6 April 2018, anyone can contribute with ideas to be considered by the programme committee, through a survey. The 11th LACIGF will take place between 30 July and 3 August 2018. The venue is yet to be decided.
15 Mar 2018 |
Following similar developments in Brazil and Paraguay last year, and Honduras, which was covered in our February update, the government of Nicaragua is now pushing forward legislative initiatives regarding the use of social networks in the country. Vice President Rosario Murillo, President Daniel Ortega’s wife, claimed that the use of the social networks is negatively influencing and affecting the capacity of coexistence of families in the country. The proposal includes reforming the Family, Children and Criminal code, among other laws, to prevent violence and ‘Fake News’. Journalists and civil society organisations have criticised the measures, which they consider an attempt to impose censorship. The parliament has already announced that it will open a debate to analyse the proposed reforms.
28 Feb 2018 |
The Inter-american Commision on Human Rights (CIDH) will host on 28 February a thematic hearing on ‘Digital intelligence, cybersecurity and freedom of expression’ in Bogotá, Colombia. The hearing was granted upon a request from Asociación por los Derechos Civiles (ADC) and it will be an opportunity to bring issues of human rights in the digital environment to a relevant intergovernmental space in the region. Other organisations such as Derechos Digitales, Electronic Frontier Foundation, R3D (México) and Fundación Karisma (Colombia) will also follow the event. The agenda will include discussions on themes such as cybercrime, data retention, digital evidence, freedom of information and digital literacy.
20 Feb 2018 |
The government of Venezuela has launched what it claims to be the first state-backed cryptocurrency, called Petro. The period of pre-sale for Petros was officially open on 20 February 2018. The government plans to offer 100 million units of the cryptocurrency, which is backed by the countries’ oil assets and use the oil barrel as a reference for its price. During the pre-sale period, 38,4 million units will be offered, and another 44 million will be available as of next month, through an initial coin offer (ICO). The technical community raises concerns about the feasibility of the project, pointing out that the government has not properly structured it. Initially, an official white paper indicated that the tokens for the pre-sale would be available through the Ethereum blockchain platform. However, a day after this paper was released, and when the pre-sale period was already open, the white paper had changed that information to indicate that the NEM blockchain platform would be used. The national opposition criticises the initiative, arguing that the strategy is merely a way to offer bonds and increase the public debt while circumventing the necessary authorisation from the Parliament to do so. The US Treasury Department has also issued a warning that the initiative appeared to be a way to extend credit to the government of Venezuela, and breach and get around the sanctions imposed on the country, which could represent legal risks for the people that eventually decide to invest on it.
15 Feb 2018 |
The World Economic Forum’s Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI) launched a digital platform called ‘Technology for Integrity’ on 15 March during its São Paulo meeting. The goal is to tap into new technologies as tools to fight corruption in the countries of the region. Partners include 96 global innovators and organisations such as Transparency International and the Inter-American Development Bank. The initiative intends to rebuild confidence and integrity in Latin America from a global perspective. The platform consists of a database of tools, best practices, and solutions to tackle corruption. The content will be produced both by the public and private sectors. The initiative also includes a laboratory of synergies through which representatives of different stakeholders will be able to meet, identify their specific needs, and contact innovators to offer tailored solutions to fight corruption.
8 Feb 2018 |
On 8 February, a special commission of the Parliament in Honduras approved the country’s Cybersecurity Act. The text also contains mechanisms to fight hate speech spread through social networks. Article 6 of the bill states that content deemed offensive should be removed or blocked within 24 hours (and in no case later than seven days), upon the request of the person deemed offended, without mentioning the need for a judicial order. The initiative is similar to the ones which were discussed in October 2017 in Brazil and in Paraguay, with the difference that the debate in those countries only concerned dealing with objectionable content in the period of elections, whereas the case in Honduras targets all digital communications. Sectors of the press and freedom of expression activists and organisations have voiced opposition to the absence of judicial review for digital content blocking or removal. According to them, if enacted, the framework has the potential to curb freedom of speech, undermine the flow of information, and promote censorship.
5 Feb 2018 |
The Brazilian Government announced that several documents used by citizens in the country will be consolidated in one single national digital identification document (DNI). The DNI is expected to be available for everyone in the country from July 2018. Until then, a pilot experience will make the document available to civil servants of courts and ministries. Citizens will download an iOs or Android app, pre-register with their data, and then find a government institution where they will have to validate their data through the biometric database which is already available in the national electoral justice system. From then, it will be available on a smartphone. Security reasons will make DNI available in only one smartphone at a time, and access will be protected by a password. Other security measures such as a watermark close to the picture and dynamic QR codes are being discussed during the pilot experience. It remains to be seen how the government plans to ensure the protection of the personal data of citizens, since the country does not yet have an objective system of protection of personal data in place.
10 Oct 2017 |
In Paraguay, a bill to reform the law that regulates elections was introduced in Congress on 10 October 2017. According to the proposal, any anonymous comment on social networks deemed offensive or defamatory by candidates shall be suspended immediately and removed until the author can be identified by name and social security number, after which the content might be reinstated. Candidates themselves shall decide what is offensive or defamatory, regardless of a judicial opinion. The bill has also received criticism and it remains under analysis.
6 Oct 2017 |
An attempt from the Congress in Brazil to reform the law that regulates elections was rejected by the government on 6 October 2017. The proposal would force digital platforms to suspend hate speech, false information, and content that candidates deemed offensive, regardless of the existence of a judicial order. Reactions argued that the proposal amounted to censorship and that it violated the Marco Civil da Internet (Internet bill of rights), according to which a judicial order has to be obtained to remove or suspend content in the country. The reform was enacted, but the proposal was vetoed.