Powered By
Sponsored By
Digital Camera


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Chavez likely to control Internet access

El Universal
Under the bill, one single Internet node may be set, with a view to manage traffic to and from Venezuela.

The draft law on telecommunications, information technology and postal services provides for the creation of a single connection node to the InternetPresident Hugo Chávez intended to enact the law on telecommunications, information technology and postal services under his decree-law 6,244, but the regulation was not included in a set of 26 decrees-laws the Venezuelan ruler issued last July 31.

Consequently, the bill was forwarded to the National Assembly for debate and approval. Among other things, the bill provides for the creation of one single node to Internet which, according to Carlos Correa, director of the NGO Espacio Público (Public Space), may pave the way for the government to control the contents of the network.

Section eighteen in the final provisions of the aforementioned bill reads: "The Executive Branch shall set up one single Internet node or access point to the Internet service providers network, with a view to manage traffic to and from the geographical space of Venezuela."

Correa explained that Internet service providers currently do not have to connect to Venezuelan state-run telecommunications company Compañía Nacional Telefónos de Venezuela (Cantv) to provide Internet access. Service providers can do it directly.

"We are worried that the government may use that one single node to establish mechanisms to control Internet contents," said the spokesman.

"Is there any assurance that the government will not use this to control society and that the implementation of one single node will not hit the access to certain types of information?" Correa wondered. "Such type of provisions causes distrust and concern," he said.

"Security" reasons

Another section of the bill relates to the presidential powers to declare as "reserved to the state", telecommunication, information technology and postal services or activities "for security and national defense reasons." The present organic law on telecommunications only conferred this power to the president in the area of telecommunication services. According to Correa, in the new bill, restrictions on freedom of speech are allowed for reasons of security and defense. However, "(the state) has to prove the need to make such a reserve (on radio-electric media and telecommunications)." "The presidential powers are enlarged, and there is absence of institutional control. These are unilateral decisions," Correa said.

The bill was ready to be enacted by President Chávez, through the Enabling Law that gave him special ruling powers. Then the draft law will be discussed by the National Assembly for approval.

REYES THEIS/Gerardo Cárdenas

No comments: