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.