Freedom of Internet in Ecuador (Report)

Posted on April 29, 2016 • Filed under: Ecuador, Internet

FREEDOMHOUSE.ORG REPORTED – Ecuador’s backbone is not highly centralized. The government does not place limits on bandwidth, nor does it impose control over infrastructure, although a new provision in the 2015 Organic Law of Telecommunications grants the government the power to takeover telecommunications services in times of national emergency.[24] Some civil society groups have raised concerns about the scope of this provision.[25]

In June 2015, protesters against the government in Quito and Guayaquil encountered service problems. Explanations for these problems range from network saturation to the possible presence of cell phone jammers.[26] Some Twitter users posted photos of what appeared to be cell phone jammers and cameras placed around the park near the protests,[27] although these reports have not been confirmed. Opposition party leaders present at protests encouraged users to circumvent problems through the use of apps such as FireChat, which uses wireless mesh networks to send messages without an internet or cellular connection. Ecuador’s telecommunications regulator Arcotel did not provide any reports or issue press releases in response to the claims that the networks were disrupted during protests.[28]


Limits on Content:

The passage of the 2013 Communications Law granted the government broad authority to censor media for reporting it perceived as biased or inaccurate, a power that has mostly been used to target print and broadcast media. As the government has increasingly curtailed offline media through fines and requests for revisions, new digital ventures and online spaces for political discussion have flourished. In recent years, however, censorship efforts have moved into the online sphere. Facing liability under the Communications Law for third party content, many digital media outlets have closed their comments section. Although there is no evidence of blocking and filtering, politically motivated copyright complaints have forced the removal of some political content, while evidence suggests that progovernment trolls have skewed national debates. In August 2015, the government declared a state of emergency and ordered prior censorship of all non-government information regarding an active volcano near the capital, a restriction that applied both to traditional media as well as to social media.[36]
Blocking and Filtering

The government does not engage in systematic blocking or filtering of content in Ecuador. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and blog-hosting services are freely available.

The country, however, faces several threats to free expression, including criminal provisions against libel, government regulation and oversight of media content, and concerns about judicial independence.[78]

Although cybercafes do not have to film users, the government requires that cybercafe users register with the Ministry of Telecommunications with their full name, phone number, passport number, voting certificate number, email address, and home address. Users must also agree to terms that stipulate that all information entered into the database during use falls under the jurisdiction of the telecommunications regulator.[104] If a user infringes on the terms and criminal charges are applicable to the transgression, the user will be prosecuted under Ecuador’s penal code.


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