Following Questionable Election, Honduran Government Debuts New Censorship Law

from the securing-the-cyber-so-future-generations-can-waste-away-in-prison dept

The masterplan for censorship: follow up a highly-questionable election with a “cybersecurity” law granting the government power to shut down critics and dissenting views. That’s what’s happening in Honduras, following the reinstallation of Juan Orlando Hernandez as president following an election “filled with irregularities.”

The new law mandates the policing of “hate speech,” as defined by a government that would love to see its critics deprived of an online platform. Whatever the government declares to be hateful must be taken down within 24 hours. Failure triggers fines and third-party platforms will be held responsible for content created by users.

While the new law does not directly target the social media platforms, activists say: “In its current state, it requires any service or website that includes user-generated content to process complaints and remove “hate speech” or discriminatory content within 24 hours.”

“Should online intermediaries fail to do so, their services could be fined or blocked. The latest draft of the bill also creates a national cybersecurity committee to receive reports and relay them to websites and companies, and to develop policy strategies on issues ranging from cybercrime to hate speech and fake news,” Javier Pallero, Digital Rights activist focusing on the Latin American region explained, according to Access Now.

The threat of $50,000 fines and an impossible timeframe will likely result in proactive policing of content, resulting in removal of posts not covered by the law. Whatever social media companies don’t remove ahead of requests will be removed shortly after receiving demands from the Honduran government. Between the two, it’s unlikely much dissenting speech will survive. This will be especially effective against local providers and small companies without the legal manpower to fend off Honduran censorship attempts.

The so-called “cybersecurity” law won’t make anyone but the government more secure. Anti-government activists have been routinely targeted by the Honduran government, some of which have been jailed indefinitely in violation of Honduran due process laws. Others have experienced more direct physical attacks and/or undergone torture in an attempt to deter them from future criticism. This law does nothing more than attempt to turn social media companies into compliant partners of Honduran government abuse.

The few dissenting voices in Honduras have been amplified by social media platforms. This is what the law aims to take away. In addition to vague guidelines on hate speech, the government is also seeking to punish those who support opposition forces or express sympathy for victims of incarceration, torture, or government-ordained murder.

The law which would severely hamper the media’s work includes Article 335-B, under which journalists can be sentenced to eight years in prison for “defending, justifying, or glorifying” terrorism.

The proposed law has been heavily criticized by international human rights organizations, like the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) which has warned the bill could be used to “sanction the work of human rights defenders.”

Murder isn’t an exaggeration. Since Hernandez’s reelection, 35 protesters have been killed by government forces and more than 1,000 have been detained. In addition, nighttime raids of alleged anti-government protesters by police forces have become routine, despite the country’s laws limiting warrant service to daylight hours.

Any law regulating speech should be examined closely to determine the motivating factor. In some cases, it’s more benign — a misguided attempt to solve a problem that can’t be solved through censorship. In other cases, the legislative wording may be benign, but the malicious intent all too apparent. That’s the case here and in several other countries, where terms like “cybersecurity,” “terrorism,” and “hate speech” have been thrown around as a smokescreen for targeted oppression of government critics.

Filed Under: , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Following Questionable Election, Honduran Government Debuts New Censorship Law”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
12 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

The Nazis of the western hemisphere

Honduras has a long history of having one of the most corrupt, murderous, literally genocidal governments in the western hemisphere, if not the entire planet. But that’s OK, because Honduras has generally been a loyal United States ally fighting “Communists” — a term traditionally applied to anyone who dares to speak out against the government — so as with all friends, we look the other way whenever something horrible happens there.

The School of the Americas (SOA) in Fort Benning, Georgia (renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) was where generations of Honduran death squad leaders learned their craft, i hate to admit, funded with my tax dollars.

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~lormand/poli/soa/honduras.htm

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Murder? What murder?

Those are just the ones known to have been killed. In Honduras, political dissidents sometimes just disappear, never to be seen again, and no bodies found. Of course everyone knows who did it, the police/”security” forces, but anyone who starts making too much noise about that may disappear next.

El Salvador next door was even worse, especially throughout the 1970s and 1980s, when even religious missionaries, Catholic nuns, and charity aid workers from the U.S. were all considered fair game by police and paramilitary forces.

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/02/el-salvador-churchwomen-murders/460320/

Leave a Reply to Anonymous Coward Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...
Older Stuff
10:43 California Governor Signs Bill Forbidding The Use Of Rap Lyrics As Criminal Evidence (12)
10:45 The Onion Files Hilarious Amicus Brief In An Important Case, And Actually Makes A Key Point In The Best Way Possible (23)
09:31 There Are Real Threats To Free Speech Everywhere. Cancel Culture Is Far Down The List (338)
10:44 Germany's Government Continues To Lock People Up For Being Extremely Online (18)
09:35 Saudi Prosecutors Are Targeting A US Citizen For Tweets Criticizing The Government (18)
13:36 Finally, Some Good News: Federal Anti-SLAPP Law Introduced (9)
16:43 5th Circuit Rewrites A Century Of 1st Amendment Law To Argue Internet Companies Have No Right To Moderate (625)
12:03 Court To Public University: Yeah, It's A 1st Amendment Problem When You Delete Comments You Don't Like (16)
10:46 Judge Blocks 'No Recording Cops Within 8 Feet' Law Even Arizona Cops Don't Want To Defend (6)
09:31 Virginia Court Rejects Prior Restraint, Says Old Law Used In Attempt To Ban Books Is Unconstitutional (18)
12:20 Censorship Starts At Home: Turkish Gov't Controls The Press, Repeatedly Claims It Does Not Control The Press (6)
05:35 Wannabe Censor Ron DeSantis Is Now 0 For 2 With His Censorship Bills: Court Throws Out His 'Stop WOKE Act' As Unconstitutional (34)
09:38 Elon Musk's Legal Filings Against Twitter Show How Little He Actually Cares About Free Speech (35)
12:07 Virginia Politicians Are Suing Books They Don't Like (65)
09:21 Appeals Court Corrects Its Previous Error, Holds That Recording Cops Is A Clearly Established Right (8)
15:27 Federal Court Allows Protesters' First Amendment Suit Against Violent Boston Cops To Continue (26)
19:39 Student Expelled Over Off-Campus Nazi Joke Can Continue To Sue The School, Says Appeals Court (205)
10:42 Twitter Sues Indian Government Over Orders To Block Content (3)
10:47 Policymakers Need To Realize How Any Internet Regulation Will Impact Speech (135)
10:44 More Than Two Thirds Of States Are Pushing Highly Controversial (And Likely Unconstitutional) Bills To Moderate Speech Online (50)
13:38 Australia's Upside Down Internet Liability Policy Shows How Section 230 Enables More Free Speech (87)
09:28 The Moral Panic Is Spreading: Think Tank Proposes Banning Teens From Social Media; Texas Rep Promises To Intro Bill (88)
12:15 Federal Agent Stupidly Threatens Twitter User With Arrest Over Protected First Amendment Expression (57)
09:31 How The Dobbs Decision Will Lead To Attacks On Free Speech; Or, Why Democrats Need To Stop Undermining Free Speech (52)
10:46 Devin Nunes Loses Yet Another SLAPP Suit, This Time In California (21)
09:28 Philippines Orders Critical News Organization, Rappler, Shut Down; Just As Rappler's Founder Argues Against Free Speech (11)
09:19 Clarence Thomas REALLY Wants To Make It Easier For The Powerful To Sue People For Criticizing Them (32)
15:39 Twitter Successfully Quashes Sketchy Copyright Subpoena Over Billionaire's Critic On Twitter (237)
12:14 Giant Private Prison Company Goes To Court To Try To Get Lawyer To Stop Tweeting About Them (15)
10:48 UK Approves Extradition Of Julian Assange, Allowing The US Government To Continue Criminalizing Journalism (46)
More arrow