In our article on 5 BestVPN’s for Mexico, we reported that government surveillance and censorship was minimal, and that self-censorship in the face of rising narco-violence was a far greater problem. However, proposed new changes to the Telecommunication Law have caused alarm among digital rights activists, who last week marched in protest from the headquarters of the country’s largest broadcaster, Televisa, to the Senate building in Mexico City.
The changes have been presented to the public as reforms designed to break up the monopolies of Mexico’s leading telecoms companies (Mexico’s main broadcast news channels, Televisa and Television Aztec are owned by two of the country’s wealthiest citizens, who are widely considered part of the corrupt ruling oligarchy), but activists say they make mass surveillance of citizens’ online activities lawful, and provide a framework for imposing online censorship, easily and without any oversight.
Areas causing particular concern are:
- Placing companies in charge of deciding what content is legal and what is not (putting them in a position to abuse this power and censor things they don’t like)
- Allowing companies to charge for internet services such as streaming or video games, thereby destroying the notion of net neutrality, one of the founding principles of the internet which holds that all internet data should be treated equally
- A big expansion of national security agencies’ powers to spy on the public and collect information, devoid of judicial oversight, transparency, or independent supervision.
We can see why Mexican activists are worried.