Chavez’ “Muzzle” media law to be extended to the control of the Internet

November 25, 2010

Today we get the news that the Government wants to extend the so called “Muzzle Law” to the Internet. While some have reported this as a “rumor”, this is not simply a rumor as this document clearly shows. It is a proposal made to the Venezuelan Vice-President Elias Jaua by the country’s telecom commission CONATEL and aims to:

“Have the State protect collective interests, particularly those of kids and adolescents, as receptors of messages via…electronic media, through resounding measures that would allow the control by these actors for the effective compliance with the laws”

later the document adds:

“Inclusion of electronic media as part of the Law; Due to the fact that this service has turned, thanks to the policies of the Bolivarian Government, in one of the main forms of communication which are received by the collective in general. basically without regulation in terms of content, which requires that the Government insure that it may be “apt” especially to kids and adolescents, because currently content is transmitted with apologies for crime which attempt against the peace, security and citizen education, it is necessary to establish responsibilities for those that issue these measures, because of the consequences it may have, as well as the adoption of immediate measures that allow for the withdrawal of such content”

Of course, this is nothing new, it just formalizes the intent of the Government to penalize the use of the Internet in any way it wants, punishing those responsible and forcing for the withdrawal of such messages.

The content is clear, while it aims at protecting kids and young people, making it sound as if the Government wants to control inapropiate content, it later includes messages that attempt against the peace and security as well as theeducation of citizens. i.e, anything the Government finds offensive.

Of course, to enforce these laws, the Government will have to be able to block content coming from abroad, since it will not be able to to force “the withdrawal of such content” and give way to all sorts of controls by the Government over the Internet.

This is simply an extension and formalization of previous actions, as offensive tweets by Venezuelan twitters have already been persecuted, showing clearly that the Government can pinpoint who and where tweets using cell phones originate (All cases so far have been those associated with cellphones, no land lines). Thus, this would become a more formal excuse to block sites, content and scare and persecute and prosecute content depending on Chavez’ whims.

Nothing new, just more of the same. Less democracy, more censorship, more totalitarianism by a Government that believes only in that and has a total disregard for people’s rights and democracy.

35 Responses to “Chavez’ “Muzzle” media law to be extended to the control of the Internet”

  1. m_astera Says:

    It sux, but I don’t think “they” will get that far with the project. For one thing there just aren’t enough intelligent tech people in Venezuela to handle the vast size of the web. And there are even fewer who speak or read English.

    China can get away with it because their system was built and grown with severe censorship in mind, and they have plenty of tech skills. China can probably afford to sit a million people down behind a government desk and pay them to monitor web content and emails.

    I’m looking on the bright side here, because it isn’t going to work, and at the same time will result in massive bad publicity.

  2. mick Says:

    Let’s just hope Bozo is as good at controlling the internet as he is at every other public project he has undertaken.

    Like all megalomaniacs before him, he will have to be taken down forcibly.

  3. Roger Says:

    Im not sure Chavez cares but you can bet the Police who started the riot at the futball stadium and had their actions webcast all over Venezuela and the world almost real time do. Then there were the Subway Twiters. Again makes some people with poder / power look bad. Still its another attempt to see how far they can go and whether some crony can sell a few million bucks worth of intercept equipment to the government.

  4. Clayton Lofgren Says:

    I am already having problems receiving some emails at cantv.net. Citibank informs me that they can no longer contact me there.

  5. JFE Says:

    “Due to the fact that this service has turned, thanks to the policies of the Bolivarian Government, in one of the main forms of communication”

    Internet thanks to Chavez! Apparently no document can be created in Venezuela without the required suckup to the Comandante.

  6. Antonio Says:

    There is a lot of talk in the internet about communicating securely in repressive societies. This is becoming one of the 21st century most interesting conspiracy debates.

    There is no foolproof way to protect your information, as Raul Reyes could have told you had he survived the seizure of his laptops. Interpol cracked all his encrypted files in less than a month. But assuming that you have not yet come to the full attention of the authorities, there are a few things you can do.

    One of the easiest ways to keep your email away from the curiosity of public employees is to write the emails using an annonymous Google account or similar, but never sending the email message. Just keep it there as a draft. Then share the encrypted login password with your counterparts, who will be able to read it there by logging in, and answer with another draft message. Change the password regularly. One up from there is to encrypt your message with a scheme such as PGP or truecrypt (all free) and add it to the draft unsent email as an attachment in a .mwv file or similar. You can also use PGP to send encrypted email messages, but that is looking for trouble.

    If you must twit, use a cheap prepaid mobile phone that can’t be traced back to you. As soon as you send the message from a public place, shut down the phone and take out the battery and replace the SIM card with a decoy one immediately. Get somebody you trust in Russia to set up your twitter account without any reference to you. Or go to Rumania and do it yourself there.

    Blogging will become more difficult, but not impossible. You need an accomplice overseas who is prepared to post for you. Give your friend only encrypted posts. Your friend would use a program like Tor, or similar, to hide his/her IP address while blogging from somebody else’s place. It helps to get hold of the wireless password of someone who doesn’t know your friend, and blog from a parked car outside their house. But watch out for suspecting secret service personnel in a car near you. Choose your friend well: your life will depend on it.

    Then sit back and wait for the repression to abate a little, perhaps as a result of your efforts to achieve regime change. But don’t expect too much from the next government: no politician wants to give away repressive powers.

    I hate computers.

  7. HalfEmpty Says:

    Man you hate on computers good!
    :)

  8. island canuck Says:

    I would think that what happened in Iran during & after the elections & what is happening now in the UK has his royal ignorance very worried.

    His falling popularity is moving him closer & closer to social upheaval & the twitterers are using social media to organize & group.

    All this stuff about removing his image is more the act of a coward then wanting to upgrade the image of socialism.

    It’s almost like he knows the day is coming & he’s trying to remove his personal responsibility. Remember he is profoundly paranoid as is evidenced by his continual references to his impending assassination.

    All these acts are leading up to the elections in 2012 which his advisors are counseling that he can’t win. Social unrest is inevitable.

  9. Ira Says:

    Antonio:

    “One of the easiest ways to keep your email away from the curiosity of public employees is to write the emails using an annonymous Google account or similar, but never sending the email message. Just keep it there as a draft. Then share the encrypted login password with your counterparts, who will be able to read it there by logging in, and answer with another draft message. Change the password regularly.”

    I saw this in a movie. Can’t remember the name, but the anti-terrorist guy arranges it so all of the bad guys wind up on the same bus, filling every seat, and blow each other up. (Instead of blowing up a hundred buses with innocents.)

  10. Speed Gibson Says:

    interesting and telling responses so far….as expected none of you are willing to do anything but whine about the real problem….but rather think in terms of working around it or hoping for the best… you dont deserve the dwindling freedom you have…..

  11. Kepler Says:

    Speed, why do you come here and bother us? It is not your business, so just get the hell out of here. If you want to do something about YOUR country, do it. Stop behaving like an old nagging grandmother meddling on someone else’s business.

  12. Roy Says:

    Too often, we see a society abandon its liberties because “we have to protect the children”. Whenever you hear a politician invoke “the children”, this should be considered a warning signal that you should respond to by protecting your wallet and preparing to defend yourself. Said politician is about to to pick your pocket, or place more restrictions on your liberties of speech and/or action.

  13. A_Antonio Says:

    MOctavio: You made an error of translation, it ‘s curious what one Word make difference:

    “Have the State protect Its collective interests, …” :-)

  14. geha714 Says:

    Ira: The movie is called Traitor, with Don Cheadle.

  15. geha714 Says:

    m_astera is right. It’s easier said than done. With the previous experience in other areas, looks like is a worthless threat. I say, bring it. They’re DOA already. They lack the money, the equipment and above all, the skilled manpower to do the job. It would take them decades to pull it off.

  16. loroferoz Says:

    “Let’s do it for the children”

    You would have to look hard do find 6 words that envelop more hypocrisy, thievery and authoritarianism, when they refer to repressive measures.

    Really, this piece of news couples nicely with my contention (at Caracas Chronicles blog) that no platitude, oxymoron, vagueness, fantasy, wishful thinking or free lunchs in the letter of law can ever be harmless. Rather, that they are all quite baleful even if not enforced.

    Law is about force and violence. Always and ever. It should be about violence done for justice and for a pretty well-defined and justified reason, in a proportional manner thorough, upon a guilty party of a real crime. Some naive folks think it can be used for social engineering. How do they play into the hands of control freaks like the one in the photograph never ceases to amuse me.

    But that’s the hidden art of lawmaking without principles or common sense. How to rape without looking the part (of rapist) but respectable and altruistic even. How NOT to achieve your publicly stated objectives while looking efficient and diligent.

    Now the govt. will produce “users and parents groups” that will strive to reduce every Venezuelan to a 8 year old kid. They will probably fail at controlling the internet. But they will (am I thinking of an analogy drug laws too?) manage to ruin the life of a few persons and instill fear in the rest.

  17. metodex Says:

    yet another attempt to crush the opposition.
    Cuba could do nothing to help themselves against his.
    We are the new Cuba.Venezuelans support these kinds of decisions.
    This is a communist country.And it till only get worse.We are doomed,and nobody is going to help.
    Another junta militar…….venezuela will never get better.

  18. uk observer says Says:

    Well it’s been nice being kept up to date via your blog MO. I hope you are able to keep it going. I will miss it if it is disappeared.

  19. island canuck Says:

    It’s interesting that there hasn’t been a peep out of our supreme leader about North Korea.

    Lula issued a statement condemning the attack 2 or 3 days ago.

  20. Jsb Says:

    Cuba knows how to block content and I’m sure they’ve shared this ability with the government.

  21. deananash Says:

    Jsb, forget Cuba, think China. Yes, China does have (probably and literally) a million internet “police”, but more importantly, they have the technology to simply block whole websites and even keywords that they object to.

    Copying this program is no more difficult than copying any other digital item and dictators are known to help each other.

    Besides, China’s sole interest in Venezuela is oil (and perhaps some other natural resources), so they could really care less who is in charge.

    Speed Gibson, I’m just wondering if I would have the courage that the current situation calls for – speaking honestly, I’m not sure that I would. Nevertheless, it is obvious that radical problems call for radical solutions.

    And as so many here would point out – and I agree – the problem is the dictator-in-chief, but rather, the subset of Venezuelan culture that has allowed things to progress this far.

  22. deananash Says:

    Of course, that should read: “…the problem is NOT the dictator-in-chief, but rather, the subset of Venezuelan culture…”

  23. Kepler Says:

    Deananash,

    I have been think for a while about China’s support to Venezuela.

    On one side you have Chinese are extremely practical and these days not prone to ideologies other than China first and the Chinese have to take their place in the world. It is mostly about making China prosperous.
    They have a long history of saying “we do not intervene in other people’s affairs”. A Chinese firm is finishing the construction a nice building for multiparty parliament in poor Lesotho and a Chinese firm is building roads in Congo. They do it just for the money.

    Now, on the other hand, they DO it for the money and then they make their calculations. The guys are clever, but I don’t know if they or anyone knows the right answer to this: how can Chinese profit the most from Venezuela?

    Perhaps they think Venezuela won’t ever become developed. If that is the case, they have good reason to bet for Chávez.
    A change would have immediate consequences:
    – Cuba goes.
    – Nicaragua goes.
    – China loses at least a couple of hundred million dollars of revenues on weapons, as the next president is likely to buy American weapons, Israeli weapons, and as now, Spanish weapons (I’d rather reduce the weapon purchases)
    – China may be afraid of losing rights for exploitation in gold and other minerals.

    See…China says it is neutral but in reality it wants the North Korean regime to do as it has done in the last 50 years. China does not want a war there, but they by all means do not want a united Korea. If there were a united Korea they would have for the first time in world history a democratic, pluralistic nation just very close to Beijin.

    So I do think they are calculating about Venezuela.

    From a good source in the electronic sector I know the Venezuela regime is using Chinese technology for the same “things” the Iranians started to use Nokia-Siemens technology.

    I doubt Chavistas are very effective in using any technology, but then we also have quite some mercenaries.

    Still: I would just be prudent and imagine anything I can write or hear can be heard by Chavistas. That is not the point. The point is when are the alternative parties going to realise they need much more for unity, that they have to fucking stop behaving as Middle Ages groups defending local fiefdoms and that their leaders have to move their asses around and talk to people they have never talked to and when are WE going to realise we should not be witnesses and helpers anymore just in posh areas but actually help a bit with the “dirty job” of taking around people who have no car (Venezuela’s majority) or supporting the volanteo in poor areas or just coming forward with any help to those who do the job?

    Then the discussion about Internet would become irrelevant because Chavez will be gone.

  24. Roy Says:

    Kepler,

    You are right, China’s interest is in maintaining the status quo. They have done and are doing quite well under the current formula world-wide. However, that may be their weakness. To try to maintain any status quo in the world is a losing bet. The one thing that is constant is change.

    As for Venezuela, eventually Venezuelans will chafe and rebel under the yoke of Chavez. However, it won’t happen until they have suffered enough to learn the lessons of what got them there in the first place. And, it looks to me as though Venezuela will suffer for quite some time to come before the lessons really sink in.

  25. Kepler Says:

    Roy,

    I don’t think it is completely about maintaining the status quo on Earth, but on don’t meddling in the name of an ideology, putting profits above all.

    See: the USA and before the Soviet Union and to a lesser extent the EU were saying at home “we will help X to gain freedom and liberty” etc (of course, there were also a lot of economic motives behind and the weapons industries and so on). And then they were sending the Peace Corps on one side and technicians (bravo) and they were also sending their bombers and their weapons to the mujahedin or whatever on the other side.

    The Chinese just want to do business and make money. Actually, from the point of view of conflicts this may be a better strategy at least for some years. What China and the rest are not seeing is how unsustainable this will be on the long run.

    In any case, back to Venezuela: I think the Chinese are more interested in Chávez staying.

    The alternative for them could lead to losing money and then uncertainty.

    Potentially, Venezuela could become a prosperous nation with better buyers of Chinese products if it were to develop in an intelligent way, but:

    Will it? There is no question Chavez is destroying Venezuela as no one has done before him for many many decades (probably since Gómez came to power or worse) but the Chinese can profit from this destruction for decades. Still: if he goes, the Chinese may think easy profits will stop.

    There is a potential for Venezuela to some day becoming a developed nation that can buy a lot for China, a Venezuela that can also be better for the Chinese, but frankly: few of our politicians have that in mind.

    This is one thing that is very lacking: although we firstly need to get rid of Chávez to do anything, we must be talking and discussing about the future already NOW and show functional illiterate in Venezuela and the millions who have no balls and just sell their votes for some cash now that we have a VISION.

    This is not an intellectual excercices. People follow those who show (or pretend to show) a vision, who gives them a dream.

  26. Kepler Says:

    Venezuelan state thugs are relying more on this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huawei_Technologies

    I will try to find out more. But as I said: a bit of caution is what we need. The real takeover is done by winning over the hearts and brains of new people we need to reach now.

  27. Lim Says:

    deananash, what did you mean by “…the problem is not the dictator-in-chief, but rather, the subset of Venezuelan culture that has allowed things to progress this far”

    I find it difficult to identify the various subsets in Venezuelan culture. One obvious classification takes into account the national origin of the population. Of the 26 M Venezuelans, some 7.7 M are recent immigrants, mainly from Colombia (4.2 M), Spain (1.25 M), Italy (0.9 M) and Portugal (0.9 M). There is also a much smaller component from the Caribbean (Haiti and Trinidad) and Ecuador, and an even smaller one from the Middle East and Asia. This is 30 % of the population! Are these people, in general, interested in defending the [traditional] Venezuelan culture? Do they understand what that culture is about? Have their families been in Venezuela long enough to fully identify with “Venezuela”?

    Now, of the remaining 70 %, which subset is going to defend the traditional values? Forget the “natives”: you can count them with the fingers of a butcher’s hand.

    The lack of cultural cohesion is a serious problem in Venezuela. How do you unite such a disparate population to do anything? One good thing about this situatuation is that civil war is unlikely. Opposite sides in a civil war tend to come from the same national or ethnic group (nationalists vs republicans, yankees vs southeners, unionists vs republicans, parlamentarians vs royalists…) These were largely artificial groups that disappeared as such after the various conflicts.

    Chavez has tried to create two artificial groups: chavistas vs oligarchs. Neither group really exist, but the concept is good enough to create cultural paralysis.

    I wish I knew where to start to identify the subset of Venezuelans who will get us out of this situation.

  28. deananash Says:

    Kepler, as a long-time resident of China I have to agree with Roy. China wants, indeed craves, stability, aka the status quo. Culturally, they don’t do change all that well – change is dangerous for them. Of course, I’m speaking politically.

    Lim, the subset I’m speaking of are the 20-25% hard core Chavistas who aren’t benefiting financially, or otherwise, and are merely content to see the rest of the country brought down to their level. Chavez understood this right from the start – no doubt through the tutoring of his mentor, Fidel.

    And this truth is something that the oppo is STILL blind towards – that to many of the Chavistas, Venezuela is better today than it was 10 years ago. It all (ways) depends on one’s perspective.

    I’ll repeat, for those who are too hard-headed to get the message: Chavez will NEVER leave office via the ballot box. Period.

  29. Kepler Says:

    Deananash,

    I have never set foot in China.
    In spite of that, I think this:
    Yes, the Chinese crave for stability, but that stability refers above all to China. How does that translate to Venezuela? If anything, it would translate to “we want things in Venezuela to remain as they are now, they are good for our business at this moment”.
    And with a little of their help and a little bit of erros from our part, Chávez could remain in Venezuela for many years – if we allow that, that is. What if Venezuela were to collapse in 10 or more years? That would have little consequences for China.
    So, in any case, they won’t move their fingers to help us in any way. And if they do something, it would be more like going on providing Chavez with quick checks and some appliances for money for as long as he has enough money or can pawn Venezuela’s oil.

    Lim,
    Regarding Venezuelans: actually, their ethnic composition does not make them less susceptible for civil war.

    Venezuela could indeed go through a civil war in much the same way as Colombia has done.

  30. m_astera Says:

    Re Internet Censoring:

    “Our blacklist has failed us: Thai minister

    A senior minister in Thailand’s ICT authority, which oversees internet censorship in the country, said that blacklisting has failed and should be dropped.

    Thongchai Sangsiri, director of computer forensics within Thailand’s Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT), told the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity cybersecurity forum in NSW today that its blacklists are verbose and have created onerous management problems for internet service providers.

    “We would like [to] leave parents and teachers to decide what to filter … because [the current system] is too much to handle,” Sangsiri said.

    http://www.zdnet.com.au/our-blacklist-has-failed-us-thai-minister-339307333.htm

  31. m_astera Says:

    USA:

    “US Government seizure of the internet has begun; DHS takes over 76 websites

    (NaturalNews) As part of a new expansion of government power over information, the Department of Homeland Security has begun seizing and shutting down internet websites (web domains) without due process or a proper trial. DHS simply seizes web domains that it wants to and posts an ominous “Department of Justice” logo on the web site. See an example at http://torrent-finder.com

    Over 75 websites were seized and shut down last week, and there is no indication that the government will stop such efforts. Right now, their focus is websites that they claim “violate copyrights,” yet the torrent-finder.com website that was seized by DHS contained no copyrighted content whatsoever. It was merely a search engine website that linked to destinations where people could access copyrighted content. Google also links to copyrighted content — does that mean the feds will soon seize Google, too?”

    http://www.naturalnews.com/030542_censorship_internet.html

  32. An Interested Observer Says:

    m_astera, consider the source – the lack of factual information, and plethora of rampant speculation, speaks enormous volumes about their bias. I can’t seem to find an unbiased version of this story (though I can certainly find dozens of websites which all seem to have copied the same, breathless rant) with details, but I suspect the difference between these sites and Google is quite simple. Google lists all sites with those keywords, while these sites exist primarily to facilitate access to copyright-protected content.

    A parallel example: the USG can seize a car that was used in a crime (or purchased with proceeds of crime), but won’t stop cars from being made just because they could be used in a crime. Not a perfect example, but I think you can see the principle in play.

    Here’s an odd thought, though: why has the USG shut those sites down, and yet it seems powerless to keep wikileaks.org offline? I don’t get it.

  33. geronl Says:

    Even in the US there are politicians who call for shutting down TV, Radio and internet sites they don’t like. They usually use various guises like “diversity” or whatever.


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