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.

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

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retrox (profile) says:

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.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: 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….

BigKeithO (profile) says:

Re: 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).

interval (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.)

aHungarianGuy says:

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).

Fik says:


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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