Venezuela passes media, Internet-muzzling law

Dec 21, 2010
A customer at a cybercafe in Caracas, Venezuela. The Venezuelan parliament passed a law banning for the first time Internet content that promotes social unrest, challenges authority or condones crime, fueling outrage by the opposition.

The Venezuelan parliament passed a law banning for the first time Internet content that promotes social unrest, challenges authority or condones crime, fueling outrage by the opposition.

The law was pushed through the unicameral National Assembly in less than a week by President Hugo Chavez's ruling party. The vote came just 10 days before a new assembly in which the opposition has swelled its ranks takes seat on January 5, following September legislative elections.

The new law expands 2004 restrictions on content in radio, television and print media. In an unprecedented move, it now also includes content from the Internet and electronic subscription services, making webpage managers "responsible for the information and content" published on their websites."

It is meant to crack down on that "makes an apology of crime," "promotes unrest in the population" or "challenges legally established authorities."

Webpage managers must now "establish mechanisms to restrict, without delay, the diffusion of messages... that are included in the ban."

The measure increases fines imposed on media violations to "10 percent of the previous year's gross income," in addition to "72 hours of continuous suspension of services."

Groups can also lose their media license if they commit repeat offenses.

The law says it aims "to establish social responsibility in the diffusion and reception of messages, to promote democratic balance between the duties, rights and interests" of media companies, commentators and clients.

Opposition lawmakers quickly decried what they called an unconstitutional move.

"It completely violates the constitution, and freedom of broadcasting in the country," said deputy Ismael Garcia.

Fellow lawmaker Pastora Medina agreed the new measure promotes "censure and self-censorship... (and) will not improve the education process that comes as the result of good communication."

Opposition lawmakers practically shut themselves out of the present National Assembly after the boycotted the 2004 elections, but they made landmark gains in September when they took 40 percent -- 67 out of 165 seats -- in the new assembly.

Ruling party deputy Earle Herrera said "the new fully guarantees the right to information, communication and media access granted by the constitution."

The leftist Chavez administration has been steadily hemming in opposition media outlets. It is currently trying to shut down Globovision TV for its strong anti-Chavez stance.

Globovision boss Guillermo Zuloaga has faced criminal charges, fled arrest and asked for political asylum in the United States.

Explore further: Turkey still hopes Twitter will open local office

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Debate starting on new French Internet piracy bill

Jul 21, 2009

(AP) -- Lawmakers in France's lower house of parliament are to start debate Tuesday on a new version of a bill aimed at cracking down on online piracy by cutting the Internet connections of those who illegally download movies ...

Chavez rockets to No. 1 on Twitter in Venezuela

May 10, 2010

(AP) -- President Hugo Chavez is tops on Twitter in Venezuela less than 2 weeks after launching his account, surpassing Internet-savvy foes who dominate the social networking site and use it to oppose him.

Groups sue Mass. over newly expanded obscenity law

Jul 13, 2010

(AP) -- A coalition of booksellers and Internet content providers on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit challenging an expansion of Massachusetts' obscenity law to include electronic communications that may be harmful to minors.

Recommended for you

Researchers uncover likely creator of Bitcoin

4 hours ago

The primary author of the celebrated Bitcoin paper, and therefore probable creator of Bitcoin, is most likely Nick Szabo, a blogger and former George Washington University law professor, according to students ...

White House updating online privacy policy

8 hours ago

A new Obama administration privacy policy out Friday explains how the government will gather the user data of online visitors to WhiteHouse.gov, mobile apps and social media sites. It also clarifies that ...

Net neutrality balancing act

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers in Italy, writing in the International Journal of Technology, Policy and Management have demonstrated that net neutrality benefits content creator and consumers without compromising provider innovation nor pr ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Corban
not rated yet Dec 21, 2010
Would they have voted in this law if they were not the incumbents? A transparent power play. Are they looking to become a dynasty?
ormondotvos
not rated yet Dec 21, 2010
Big OOps for Chavez. It won't work, and it will make him look a non-technical fool.

He's taking on the search engines. Always a bad idea. Is Venezuela going to build a firewall like China? Are radios banned? Tweets?

More news stories

Under some LED bulbs whites aren't 'whiter than white'

For years, companies have been adding whiteners to laundry detergent, paints, plastics, paper and fabrics to make whites look "whiter than white," but now, with a switch away from incandescent and fluorescent lighting, different ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Researchers uncover likely creator of Bitcoin

The primary author of the celebrated Bitcoin paper, and therefore probable creator of Bitcoin, is most likely Nick Szabo, a blogger and former George Washington University law professor, according to students ...

Continents may be a key feature of Super-Earths

Huge Earth-like planets that have both continents and oceans may be better at harboring extraterrestrial life than those that are water-only worlds. A new study gives hope for the possibility that many super-Earth ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...