Peruvian Congress Finalizes And Approves New Computer Crime Law In Secret Session, With No Public Discussion

from the transparency,-what's-that? dept

Like many countries, Peru has been working on a law to deal with various kinds of crimes that involve computers and the Internet in some way. But as Access Now reports, this process has just been concluded in a pretty outrageous fashion, displaying deep contempt for the Peruvian people:

On September 12th, the infamous cybercrime law project known as "Ley Beingolea" appeared at the top of the National Congress of Peru's list of projects to debate, despite many criticisms and requests from civil society for open dialogue. What followed next was even more incredible: after some debate on the floor, at 11 a.m. all Congress members went into recess. Five hours later, a completely new text entered into discussion and was passed by the Congress, without any public review.
Given this genesis behind closed doors, with no opportunity for the public to comment on it or point out its flaws, it will come as no surprise that the results are problematic, with plenty of potential for abuse:
Most of these criminal offenses affect fundamental rights such as access to knowledge, freedom of expression, and other criminal law principles such as the need to determine precise conducts to punish (typicity) and the proportionality of sentences. Many of the laws provisions -- such as illegal personal data traffic (art.6), identity theft (art. 9), and the abuse of computer mechanisms and devices (art. 10) -- are poorly and vaguely worded, turning legitimate and common behaviors like investigative journalism, creating a Twitter parody account, or selling network analysis devices into crimes.
This one is symptomatic of the new legislation's attitude towards the digital world:
The new formulation of the criminal offense of discrimination -- which, according to experts, has been rarely used in its original form -- punishes any person who discriminates against one or more person or group of people, or promotes discriminatory acts because of race, religion, sex, genetics, family status, age, disability, language, ethnic and cultural identity, garment, political opinion or opinion of any kind, or economic condition, with the aim of annulling or undermining the recognition, enjoyment, or exercise of a right. The only "digital" difference here is that when the discrimination takes place using information technologies it is considered an aggravation of the same offense, just as with violent discrimination acts. In practice, this will lead to tougher penalties for those who commit the same crime merely for their use of technology in its commission.
Leaving aside the issue of whether a law against discrimination based on garments is really necessary, the key point here is that the mere act of using a computer is seen as aggravating an offense. That's not just ridiculous -- a computer is simply a tool, like a pen or a hammer -- it's also really foolish for a developing country like Peru, which should be offering every encouragement to its people to use technology, not frightening them away from it with ill-thought-out and poorly-worded legislation, as here.

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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 3 Oct 2013 @ 4:40am

    This is yet another symptom of a disease that's widespread in the world: Governments don't give a shit about the people, they govern for themselves. Expect this law to be largely applied to the Peruvians while systematically ignored when there's a Govt official involved.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2013 @ 6:44am

    So if I write in paper bad things is less criminal than if I had used my smartphone?

    Politicians are the infinite fountain of jokes.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2013 @ 6:58am

    Why public discussion is important?

    Is like looking for bugs in code, the more eyeballs you have on something the more likely people will find problems and those problems can be addressed.

    Not doing it, means less debugging has gone into it and the probability of things going horribly wrong goes up tremendously, I would say exponentially but I don't want to have to think about the formula for such statement, I would be mocked until I have found one that would pass the laugh test, reducing my already low self esteem.

    But anecdotal I miss things on code often, it takes me 2 or more passes to see the errors and when I finally run the damn thing I still find more, assuming legislation is the same and that you reduce the number of people checking it I can only assume this will go live with numerous problems that will be difficult to fix after the fact and this is why people in general mock politicians as being dumb they don't debate that shite and expect others to follow when everyone can see the obvious problems at the time and it would be easier to fix those.

    On the other side it must be hard to be in that position having to decide what is a true bug and what is not when you don't have a way to test it before it goes live, crazy people make crazy demands and those crazy people are loud.

    Still don't see why people can't have a public debate about issues, like GitHub, it is public, and people start adopting what they like more than what crazy people want, good code always rise to the top along with good governance, open source has a way to make that happen, because most people are not crazy, they are moderates and so mostly by trial and error crowds even without central coordination find the most appropriate path to something and when even brainless fungus can do it why not societies?

    Don't be afraid of debate embrace it and things will mostly turn ok, don't and mockery and pain will be the end results almost every time.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2013 @ 7:05am

    So 'discriminatory acts' regardless of intent/etc are now illegal.

    So that means that dating sites that do things like have online forums that only people of a certain gender can post in (based on what gender you registered yourself as when signing up) are now violating the law by having a boys or girls only club/forum?

    What about online ad technology that find out your gender and show ads of things that your gender is more likely to buy? Like showing ads for manly and fatty foods for men browsing the web, and only diet food for women, does that count as discriminating for implying women need to go on a diet?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2013 @ 7:53am


      That's the beauty of it. With vague laws that could cover practically anything, any legal action against anyone is guaranteed to be justified, allowing them to attack people and sites indiscriminately.

      ...Did I say "beauty"? I meant "terrifying implication".

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2013 @ 8:56am

    'This symptomatic of the ...legislation's attitude towards the digital world

    all this shit started, as usual, in the USA. the politicians are so keen to continue getting their nice little 'bonuses', they dont give a toss what is in the law, how it can be interpreted or the consequences. it's already been shown numerous times how both the NSA and DOJ have abused laws, taken them to mean something completely different to how they are worded and were written, just because a certain person wasn't liked or because a certain 'industry' had friends in those agencies. this is no excuse for another country to go down the same route. the USA has a terrible record on such things and needs to be stopped from threatening other countries so they do what they are told, even though the citizens will suffer and the country as a whole will not benefit!!

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

  • identicon
    kitsune361, 3 Oct 2013 @ 9:19am

    America, exporting democracy.

    I wonder where they got the idea for such behavior and such laws. Methinks they've been studying D.C a bit too much.

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

  • icon
    Postulator (profile), 4 Oct 2013 @ 1:47am

    Where's the problem? It sounds like they've modelled this on US law, which is clearly the finest in the world.

    (For government/corporations).

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

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