It’s commonly understood that the world watches closely what the U.S. does on technology and communications policy, so we in the U.S. have to be careful of the precedents we set. In fact, during the recent so called “network neutrality” debate, opponents of new government regulation made exactly this argument. Other countries frequently follow our lead, or use our actions as cover to justify their actions.
So it may be more than a coincidence that as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued its new “network neutrality” regulations for broadband networks, Venezuela decided to act. As of late December the Venezuela Parliament changed the laws to provide the Executive with the power to regulate all content accessible within the country on the Internet by heavily regulating exactly what the service providers can do.
All Venezuelan-based ISPs now are required, under threat of fine, to block all content that:
· Encourages and promotes hatred and intolerance for religious, political, and gender difference, by racism or xenophobia,
· Incites or promote and/or justify the crime,
· Constitutes war propaganda,
· Fosters unrest among the citizenship or disturb public order,
· Refuses to recognize the government’s authority,
· Induces to murder,
· Incites or promotes the violation of existing law,
· Promotes, justifies or incites public disturbances,
· Allows for anonymous use, or
· Disregards the legitimate authority.
In other words, essentially all content will be regulated, including text, images, sound and video–anything that might conflict these provisions.
And the result is an oppressive government seizing control of the Internet and using new U.S. regulations as at least partial cover for their own bad behavior.
Oh sure, Venezuela needed little provocation for its continued oppression, especially from the U.S., but now Chavez has the comfort of knowing that the U.S. has joined Venezuela in the company of governments who regulate the Internet.