Hungary, Venezuela Each Start To Regulate Internet Content To Stop Political Commentary The Gov't Doesn't Like

from the yeah,-that'll-work dept

Recently, we mocked a proposed law in Venezuela to regulate internet content, and it appears that law has passed and it's even more ridiculous than originally thought. The part we had found funny would have said that certain "adult" content could only be online at night, as if the internet worked like television. The approved regulations are even more insane. It says that all Internet traffic is supposed to pass through a single, government-controlled access point and forbids any content that disrespects public officials. Uh, yeah, that's called censorship. Amusingly, supporters of the bill, in a true Orwellian manner claim that by sending all internet traffic through a single government controlled access point will "make the internet faster." Um, yeah, that's not how the internet works.

If we jump halfway around the world, to Hungary, it appears the government there is doing something similar. Glyn Moody points us to the news that the Hungarian Parliament has approved a new law regulating all media content -- including online. Apparently, any content judged not to be "politically balanced," will get fined. Of course, it's the ruling party that has their fingers on the scale to determine what is, and what is not, considered "balanced." The law will also require journalists to hand over names of sources. Think of it as the opposite of a shield law for journalists. Anyway, if the Hungarian government believes this post is not politically balanced enough for their censors, well, tough luck.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 6:20am

    I bet that will be next to impossible to enforce.

     

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  2.  
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    retrox (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 6:38am

    Some clarification. Things are actually worse than your post suggests.

    The law never intended to limit adult content to certain times. Time limitations would only apply to TV and Radio, which are also controlled by this law. Questionable content on the Internet would be blocked 24/7.

    The "single, government-controlled access point" was not part of the same law, and it was finally rejected (I suspect the Chavista legislators realized this was too complicated for the government's techs).

    The worse part of the law is that it prohibits any content (on the Internet, Radio or TV) that "creates anxiety among citizens".

    Does this include reporting about the 19,133 homicides in Venezuela during 2009? Or about Venezuela having the highest inflation rate in Latin America in 2009? Or about the hundreds of companies that are being expropriated? Or about how the government learnt nothing from the 1999 floods and allowed more than 100.000 to be displaced by the 2010 floods? Or about how people are turned back from public hospitals because there are no bandages or anesthesia or medicines? Or about the millions of dollars that have disappeared in the last 12 years while Chavez and his friends buy huge extensions of land and drive around in Hummers? Or about how Chavez changed the electoral law to secure 60% of the seats in the National Assembly despite achieving only 48% of the votes? Or about how he violated the Constitution by preventing opposition candidates to participate in elections? Or about how he has forced most of the changes the citizens rejected in the 2007 referendum? Or about how his candidate lost the mayorship of Caracas so Chavez then handed all the mayors assets to a person appointed by him? Or about how he has built less housing in 12 years than any previous president did in 5? Or about how his government manipulates the poverty and unemployment indicators? Or about how his personal expenses in 2010 were of more than 21 million dollars?

    As a Venezuelan of course I'd be very anxious reading about all that in the press, and I might even realize Mr. Chavez is a fraud who has done more to stay in power than to improve our lives.

     

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  3.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 6:47am

    Re:

    "As a Venezuelan of course I'd be very anxious reading about all that in the press, and I might even realize Mr. Chavez is a fraud who has done more to stay in power than to improve our lives."

    Are you actually still IN Venezuela, or are you outside the borders?

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 7:08am

    Sounds normal for Communists! So what? Neither of these countries produce anything that important and if they disappear from the face of the earth there would be no loss to the rest of us at all.

     

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  5.  
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    retrox (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 7:15am

    Re: Re:

    I live in Venezuela, in Caracas. But these weeks I am on Christmas vacation visiting friends and family abroad, and I can understand why so many of our people are choosing to leave Venezuela.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 7:17am

    Re:

    Famous last words:
    That would never happen here

     

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  7.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 7:27am

    Re:

    "Sounds normal for Communists!"

    Sigh. Venezuela is NOT communist. Not that I particularly like the way they run their govt. (from what I can tell as a foreigner, at least), but they're a Federal Presidential Republic. Socialist? Sure, to some extent. Also a mix of representative republic and dictatorship (as the focus of power is on the President, who is not responsible to the legislature). But NOT communist. Stop listening to American media mouthpieces and read something, for Christ's sake.

    Hungary is even less a communist state. They're a parliamentary republic, same as Germany, Greece, Italy, Israel, Poland, South Africa, and (seriously, get this) it's the same form of government that WE installed in IRAQ!

    In other words, learn to troll better....

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 7:28am

    Once again, the angry American attempts to apply American standards to other countries, in an arrogant display of "daddy knows best".

     

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  9.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 7:29am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Ah understood. I only asked because it seemed like this TD article would be exactly the type of thing they'd want to block, based on your response. I'm sending your country good wishes for better legislative outcomes.

    And have a happy holiday!

     

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  10.  
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    BigKeithO (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 8:20am

    Re:

    Neither of these countries produce anything that important and if they disappear from the face of the earth there would be no loss to the rest of us at all.

    Venezuela produces a lot of oil. Last I checked the US was pretty drunk on oil consumption. Give up oil and all of its related products and then your statement might hold some weight (still pretty callous and semi-evil non the less).

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 8:25am

    Re:

    Common sense is not a trait of American politics and nor is the luxury of any one culture.

    Just get over your dumb rhetoric and come back when you got something useful to sayl

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 8:29am

    Re:

    They actually produce oil.

    But I agree with you. Overall it is a crappy place, that is governed by a lunatic, that have aspirations to become a dictator.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 8:39am

    Re:

    And you are not being arrogant with your post?

     

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  14.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 8:40am

    Todays intenet news ...

    The TechDirt blog has been banned in Hungary and Venezuela.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 9:12am

    Re:

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 10:34am

    Re:

    No, more like "Tech Savvy writer points at laughs at governments flailing blindly".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    PRMan, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 10:42am

    An error, Mike.

    You forgot USA.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 10:46am

    It may be coming to the US sooner than you think

    The Rev. Al Sharpton of talk radio fame has spoken with the FCC about the "fair and balanced" situation and has requested that the commission impose the same sort of rules, that all broadcasts have to 'be "politically balanced"'. Sound familiar? (See the Hungarian reference in the article above.)

     

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  19.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 10:50am

    Re: It may be coming to the US sooner than you think

    They already had that here. It was called "Equal Time" or some such nonsense, and if failed utterly....

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 10:58am

    Re: Re: It may be coming to the US sooner than you think

    Really?

    Darn. And here I was looking forward to getting the same time as the Republicans and Democrats to talk about Dark Helmetocracy

     

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  21.  
    icon
    interval (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 11:00am

    They Caved

    I get Venezuela's reaction, Chavez is a dictator so it no real surprise, but Hungary, after 40 years of cold war domination by the Soviets doesn't get what a bad idea this is? What the hell happened to them?

     

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  22.  
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    interval (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 11:03am

    Re: Re:

    Hungary in fact has (had?) some a long way in becoming an enlightened state, I'm really surprised at their action here.

     

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  23.  
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    interval (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 11:07am

    Re:

    So, when does government control of media become evil? When the detainment of civilians without due process gets to be so big it can't be hidden, as in China (and is getting to be in Venezuela)? Oh, I forgot m due process is a stupid American thing. Go ahead, jail your citizens without reason, and make sure your media outlets can't broadcast it to your heart's content. Obviously, other countries know best.

     

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  24.  
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    interval (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 11:08am

    Re:

    Apparently your own arrogant government knows what's best.

     

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  25.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 11:10am

    Re: Re: Re: It may be coming to the US sooner than you think

    "Darn. And here I was looking forward to getting the same time as the Republicans and Democrats to talk about Dark Helmetocracy"

    Sigh. If only...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Eduardo Castaneda, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 11:36am

    New governmental controls on Internet in Venezuela

    This is one of the recent attempts to enforce political control on the population, under the assessment of cuban officials. Democracy?, not now as it used to be among us.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 2:09pm

    Re: Re:

    Taken after the bodies had been removed.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 3:10pm

    Why not?

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    aHungarianGuy, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 3:14pm

    Re:

    fortunately it is not yet banned in Hungary :-)

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    aHungarianGuy, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 3:26pm

    Re: They Caved

    This spring a new government was elected with 2/3 of the seats in the Parliament. This allows them to do whatever they want, this includes changing our constitution. (Another recent example, not relevant to this blog, is extorting money from private pension funds.)

    Their actions regarding the media are displaying a big centralisation effort (new office with puppet leader elected for 9 months) and a bad misunderstanding of the workings of the Internet and the Web. They have stated however, that the intent is to finally have some kind of regulation and they will look into arising problems and adapt the law to solve the arising problems. We will see what happens next year (the law comes into effect 1st of January 2011).

     

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  31.  
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    Guillermo Esteves (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 3:55pm

    Re:

    It's amusing to see anonymous comments defending this new law, when anonymous comments are one of the very things the law prohibits (Art. 29.)

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Roland, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 4:40pm

    Hungary's going broke

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Fik, Dec 26th, 2010 @ 1:45pm

    Re: Re:

    THE VENEZUELAN GOVERNMENT CAN NOT BE COMMUNIST, not even socialist, because our constitution expressely forbids it. It says we are a federated state with a representative and participative democracy and citizen-elected authorities.
    Moreover, a couple years ago a president sponsored "socialists" amendment to the then 7 year old constitution was rejected by the people by a wide margin, and the president almost disowned the result (the military didn't let him, but allowed him to ordering the alteration of the official results to show less than 1% margin).

    But ... it has a standing policy of confiscating whatever private industries and land it pleases (literally on a presidential whim while on his sunday TV show, where he also sings - no kidding) and later show them as "made in socialism" for several months, before they are paralized by corruption and inefficiency.
    IT ALSO rises sales taxes and income taxes to the remaining barely free enterprises (needed to keep the country more or less running and the people fed), while threatening the same industries with confiscation and steep fines. It then spend revenues from taxes and oil on russian weaponry, cuban intelligence and gifts to Iran, China, Bolivia, Nicaragua, etc.
    IT ALSO made illegal the possession of foreign currency, establishing a lenghty and complicated process for obtaining currency for travel or imports. Often applications are denied on the basis of the color of the folder they are submitted ... or for no reason. When aproved, the limit is only $3000 per year.
    IT ALSO passes laws limiting more and more what can and can't be said (i.e. it is forbidden to air information that can cause "fear and unrest". Precisely because of this a TV station got punished several months ago for airing information about an ongoing earthquake while state TV waited for the president to say something, wait that lasted several hours. Yes: it was an unauthorized earthquake). It also closes newspapers, radio and TV stations that are critical to the government.
    IT ALSO recently passed a law organizing local government in communes and comunal cities, whose authorities are self-elected (that is, designated by the president), keeping the states, counties and districts from the constitution (with citizen-elected authorities) but reducing them to functional and financial irrelevancy.
    IT ALSO passed some 20 laws this December, including one that yields legislating capacity to the president for 18 months, before January when the new parliament (with 40% opposition) takes over the current one (with 5% opposition).

    It may not be communist on paper, but if it quacks like a duck ...

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    sam sin, Dec 27th, 2010 @ 12:14pm

    so how long before the rest of the 'democratic world' is run in the same way? freedom of speech and citizens rights are being replaced by the views of corporations after 'lobbying' governments. the people dont count for squat any more!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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