Protests Mount Against Mexico's Proposed Telecommunications Law, Which Would Bring In Censorship, Allow Real-time Surveillance And Kill Net Neutrality

from the toxic-mix dept

Many people will be familiar with the name Carlos Slim as intermittently the richest person in the world, generally vying with Bill Gates for that title. Some will probably be aware that his huge fortune -- currently listed as $69.67 billion in his Wikipedia entry -- is derived from a business empire based on telecommunications. But as this article in the Los Angeles Times points out, ordinary Mexicans have paid a high price for his success -- literally:

telephone service, both land-line and cellular, is dominated by companies owned by Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, one of the world's richest men, who has grown his businesses throughout Latin America. That means Mexicans pay some of the world's highest prices for some of the spottiest phone service.
Nor is that the only sector in Mexico where business power is highly concentrated:
For years, most of Mexican television has been dominated by a single company, Televisa, the largest broadcaster in the Spanish-speaking world. (Most of the rest is controlled by another single company, TV Azteca.)
On the face of it then, a new Mexican telecoms law that aims to loosen the grip of those dominant companies should be a good thing. But increasingly people are worried that its bad elements may outweigh the good, as Global Voices explains:
Billed as an effort to break up Mexico's notorious telecommunications and broadcast monopolies, the law covers a broad range of electronic communications issues -- and treads heavily in human rights territory. At the behest of the "competent" authorities, the law authorizes telecommunications companies to "block, inhibit, or eliminate" communications services "at critical moments for public and national security." The law also authorizes Internet service providers to offer service packages that "respond to market demands" and differentiating in "capacity, speed, and quality" -- a measure that could preclude protections for net neutrality in the country. To top it off, security measures in the law would allow authorities to track user activity in real time using geolocation tools, without obtaining prior court approval.
That's a pretty toxic mix -- censorship, real-time surveillance and no net neutrality. The good news is that Mexicans are starting to mobilize against the proposed measures:
ContingenteMX, a nonprofit collective consisting of Human Rights, environmental and social network activists and citizens, hereby demands a guarantee that the inalienable right of free Internet access -- established on the Constitution -- be clearly spelled out in Mexico’s Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law. It also requests that the constitutional citizen initiative "Internet Libre para Todos" (Free Internet For All), signed by over 223 thousand duly identified citizens and delivered to Congress in 2013 as a proposal to guarantee the right of Internet access become law.
According to a report on, people have already taken to the streets in protest against the new law. In addition:
Mexico's human rights commission has already denounced the legislation for violating basic constitutional rights including the right to privacy and freedom of expression. In the coming weeks the legislation will go before the senate and Internet freedom activists are hoping it will get voted down.
Let's hope so too.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2014 @ 3:56am

    any idea where the contents of this bill came from? could it have been from the USA, by any chance? (sarc) perhaps there was some input by USTR, we know how helpful they always want to be (towards Hollywood etc that is!)

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

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 23 Apr 2014 @ 4:20am


      There are regional powers that often eclipse the US in the world and while the US are trying exactly that within its borders the foreign affairs part acts much like a right hand that doesn't know what the left is doing and advocates the opposite (unless it's about trade agreements) and thus may not be having any meaningful influence here.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2014 @ 4:05am

    No, no, no, you all misunderstand this wonderful bill. It is really only meant to break up the monopolies, you sheeple! Now go back to sleep.

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

  • icon
    Ticketsreview (profile), 23 Apr 2014 @ 7:45am

    Mexico is following Turkey in its war against technology. They want to censor anything which isn't going with their views!

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

    • icon
      ltlw0lf (profile), 23 Apr 2014 @ 8:27am


      Mexico is following Turkey in its war against technology.

      I cannot think of any country not at war against technology at the moment. Sure, Turkey and Mexico are up there, but just about every country out there seems to be scared of technology at the moment.

      Can't say that I blame them...freedom *is* scary.

      I don't know how the governments survived hundreds of years ago, when they weren't in control over every aspect of everyone's lives and people did a lot of stuff without the oversight and control of the government. The fear of those governments that people might be out there doing stuff that they couldn't control...must have kept them up every night.

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

      • icon
        squall_seawave (profile), 23 Apr 2014 @ 10:05am

        Re: Re:

        You have it backwards when technology allowed people to read and hear not sanctioned news thats when the govervment went to war against technology they simply want to regain the control they used to have
        Also mexican history is plagued by corruption and i am pretty sure this law will pass and people cant do anything

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2014 @ 4:02pm

    The first thing a foreign aggressor attempts to do before launching an attack is block, inhibit, or eliminate a countries telecommunication systems.

    The Mexican government has just declared that they're willing to make an attack on their county easier, by carrying out this attack themselves.

    I believe that makes the Mexican Government traitors, by knocking out the communication systems of it's citizens.

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

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