While Ecuador has received plenty of attention for granting asylum to Julian Assange and being one possible landing place for Ed Snowden, it's no secret that the country is not exactly known as a bastion of civil liberties protection. In fact, last year, just as it was granting Julian Assange asylum, there were reports coming out about highly questionable
activities by the Ecuador government in extraditing someone who had exposed corruption. In that post, it was noted that Ecuardor scrapped its own rules requiring a warrant to investigate someone's IP address and has been known to seize the computers of critical journalists.
So, it should come as little surprise that while so much attention is on Ecuador, it was leaked to Buzzfeed that the country is in the middle of purchasing equipment for widespread surveillance
, including a system called "GSM Interceptor" (subtle!) and some unmanned surveillance drones. Basically, the country does not have a great record on protecting civil liberties or freedom of the press.
But, here's where the story gets even more bizarre. Buzzfeed's reporters, Rosie Gray and Adrian Carrasquillo, had posted the various documents they got revealing these purchases on Scribd and embedded them beneath the story. Here's a screenshot:
Could there be a copyright claim? Well, unlike the US, many countries do allow government documents to be covered by a form of copyright, but even so it seems ridiculous that Ecuador is clearly using copyright to try to stifle a free press in discussing its surveillance efforts. It's yet another example of copyright being used for censorship, made doubly ironic in that it came about while trying to stifle documents about its surveillance program that only came to light because the of possibility that it might offer political asylum to Ed Snowden for revealing US surveillance. Are there any places left on earth that actually do respect basic civil liberties?