[bestbits] Civil Society letter against the blocking of sites in Venezuela

Javier Pallero javier at accessnow.org
Sat May 27 14:02:10 EDT 2017

Dear friends,

a group of Venezuelan civil society organizations have put together a
letter denouncing the blocking of websites and the repression against
political activists and citizen journalists in Venezuela. You will find
more information about this in the content of the letter and the links it
points to.

The organizations are accepting signatures on a rolling basis. We kindly
invite you to sign, republish and share the letter through your networks.
If you are interested in signing, please send an email to
juliana at derechosdigitales.org and please CC marianne at derechosdigitales.org

We will keep you posted on more news and actions. Please find the content
of the letter *below*.

Kind regards,


*Javier Pallero*

Policy Analyst / Analista de Politicas
Access Now | accessnow.org

Fingerprint 0503 FBA1 10B2 B83C 61FC FE3B 4E7E EBDD EBFD 028A

----------------------------- BODY OF THE LETTER -----------------------

*On the limitations to fundamental rights online as a consequence of the
state of exception in Venezuela *

On May the16th, the Venezuelan Government issued Executive Order 2489 to
extend the  "state of emergency" in Venezuela, in place since May 2016.
This new extension authorizes Internet policing and content filtering [1].
This measure deepens the restrictions to the free flow of information
online even more. They incluide the blocking of streaming news outlets,
such as VivoPlay, VPITV, and CapitolioTV [2]. Other serious practices that
prevail in Venezuela are the aggressions of military and police personnel
to journalists and civilian reporters, and the detention of citizens in the
wake of content published in social networks.

This happens in a context of a general deterioration of telecommunications,
as a consequence of the divestment in the sector in the last 10 years. This
has turned Venezuela into the country with the worst internet connection
quality in the Latin American region [3]. Given the censorship practices
applied to traditional media, the Internet has become an essential tool for
the freedom of expression and access to information of the Venezuelan

The measures taken by the Venezuelan Government to restrict online content
constitute restrictions to the fundamental rights of Venezuelan citizens
and, as such, do not comply with the minimum requirements of
proportionality, legality, and suitability. The Venezuelan Government has
systematically ignored civil society requests regarding the total number of
blocked websites. To this date, there is evidence of the blocking of 41
websites [4], but it is suspected that many more websites are being
blocked. The legal and technical processes applied by the government to
determine and execute the blocking of websites remain unknown.

These kind of practices affect the exercise of human rights. In a joint
release, the rapporteurs for freedom of expression of the UN and the IACHR
condemned the “censorship and blocking of information both in traditional
media and on the internet” [5]. During the last few months, three streaming
tv providers have been blocked without a previous court order. Moreover,
the Government has used unregulated surveillance technologies that affect
the fundamental rights of citizens, such as surveillance drones to track
and watch demonstrators, while at the same time expanding its internet
surveillance prerogatives, through the creation of bodies such as CESPPA.

In addition to this, the government has implemented mechanisms for the
collection of biometric data without citizens being able to determine their
purpose nor who has access to such information. The official discourse
towards the Internet, and specifically to social networks, is disturbing:
the director of the National Telecommunications Commission has recently
declared that social networks are “dangerous” and a tool for
“non-conventional war” [6].

The sum of this factors, aggravated by the passage of time and the
deepening of the social and political crisis, outlines the creation of a
state of censorship, control, and surveillance that gravely affects the
exercise of human rights. Quality access to a free and neutral internet is
recognized internationally as a necessary condition for the exercise of
freedom expression, communication and the access to information, and as a
precondition of the existence of a democratic society. In that regard, the
undersigned civil society and academic organizations wish to set our
position in the following terms:

We express our condemnation to the extension of the state of exception in
Venezuela, as well as to the restrictions to the free flow of online
content that derive from it.

We manifest our concern for the growing deterioration of internet access
infrastructure and telecommunications in Venezuela. The maintenance of such
systems is of vital importance for education, innovation, and the
communication of Venezuelans.

We emphasize that the use and implementation of technological tools such as
drones and biometric identification systems must fit human rights standards
and not affect the fundamental freedoms of citizens, in particular their
privacy and autonomy.

We insist that all measures that restrict the free exercise of fundamental
rights, such as the blocking of web pages, must comply with the minimum
requisites of proportionality, legality and suitability, and in
consequence, must be only adopted by judicial authorities following a due

We request the ending of the harassing actions and insulting speech
conducted by public servants online against NGOs and human rights activists
that document and denounce acts through digital platforms.

We demand the cessation of military and police aggressions against
journalists and citizen reporters.

We request transparency on the actions taken to restrict internet traffic
and content, and demand an answer to the requests for public information
made by civil society regarding the practices of content blocking and
filtering executed by the public administration.


Derechos Digitales
Instituto Prensa y Sociedad de Venezuela
Acceso Libre (Venezuela)
Universidad de los Andes (Venezuela)
Venezuela Inteligente
Public Knowledge
Access Now

[1] http://ipysvenezuela.org/alerta/nuevo-estado-excepcion-c
[2] https://www.derechos.org.ve/actualidad/ipys-venezuela-c
[3] http://repositorio.cepal.org/bitstream/handle/11362/
[4] http://vesinfiltro.com/noticias/bloqueos_abril_2017/
[5] http://www.oas.org/es/cidh/expresion/showarticle.asp?artID=1062&lID=2
[6] https://web.archive.org/web/20170526144148/https:/


*Javier Pallero*

Policy Analyst / Analista de Politicas
Access Now | accessnow.org

Fingerprint 0503 FBA1 10B2 B83C 61FC FE3B 4E7E EBDD EBFD 028A

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