Due to a dearth of funding, including a lack of investor interest in internet advertising, it is difficult for individuals and nonprofit initiatives to establish sustainable “Por qu un Caf Internet an es buen negocio en Mxico” [Why an Internet Caf Is Still Good Business in Mexico], InternetCafes.com.mx (blog), July 1, 2010, http://internetcafes.com.mx/2010/07/por-que-un-cafe-internet-aun-es-buennegocio-en-mexico/ (in Spanish).
Janet Vazquez, “Censura Jalisco Video de Youtube” [Jalisco’s Government Censors Youtube], W Radio, July 12, 2010, http://www.wradio.com.mx/nota.aspxid=1325812 (in Spanish).
“IFE Censura a PAN: Zavala” [Zavala: PAN Is Censored By IFE], W Radio, April 3, 2010, http://www.wradio.com.mx/nota.aspxid=789606 (in Spanish).
Jos Gerardo Meja, “IFE ordena a YouTube retirar spot de Fidel Herrera” [IFE Orders YouTube to Remove a Video of Fidel Herrera], El Universal, May 12, 2009, http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/notas/597512.html (in Spanish).
Katia Drtigues, “Todos contra Brewer” [Everybody against Brewer], Vanguardia, April 27, 2010, http://www.vanguardia.com.mx/%C2%BFtodoscontrabrewer-492495-columna.html (in Spanish).
MEXICO FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net online media projects. For example, the electronic magazine Reporte Indigo, launched in 2007, is now one of Mexico’s most innovative and influential political websites, but due to financial constraints it has been forced to begin charging for its content. Nevertheless, the internet has provided space for certain forms of expression that is unavailable elsewhere.
Some community radio stations,31 such as RadioAMLO Puebla, have successfully migrated online after being shut down by the authorities because of Mexico’s restrictive legal framework on such outlets.32 Journalists’ organizations have founded Periodistas de a Pi, aimed at countering growing violence against journalists, and Mxico Infrmate, dedicated to promoting transparency and auditing officials’ use of state resources.33 Blogs and politically oriented web portals have not gained significant influence or succeeded in dramatically widening the spectrum of views available to Mexicans beyond the narrow set of opinions found in the concentrated print and broadcast market. This is not due to deliberate government censorship, however, and the Mexican public generally has open access to the full range of national and international news sources.
Many civil society groups have their own sites, and those that cannot afford a website are able to use blogging platforms to provide information on their activities. According to the World Association of Community Radio in Mexico, the internet has been a helpful tool for nongovernmental organizations operating in rural areas, and especially for female activists.Facebook has emerged as an important instrument for social and political mobilization, as Mexico was home to over 18 million users at the end of 2010, the largest contingent in Latin America and eighth largest in the world.35 Twitter also has a growing number of registered users, approximately 146,000 as of February 2010.36 Citizens have used Twitter and Facebook to exchange information about drug-related violence, and to warn local communities about dangerous situations, especially in the northern states.37 In October 2009, when Congress introduced a plan to impose a 3 percent tax on internet access, users mobilized via a Twitter movement called “Internet Necesario,” and Congress See the website of the World Association of Community Radio–Mexico at http://www.amarcmexico.org/ (in Spanish).
Julio Hernndez Lpez, “Cofetel Golpeadora: Silencia Dos Radios Comunitarias” [Cofetel Shuts Down Two Community Radio Stations], La Jornada, October 4, 2007, http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2007/10/04/index.phpsection=opinion&article=004o1pol (in Spanish).
See the Mxico Infrmate website at http://www.mexicoinformate.org/portal/ (in Spanish).
Interview with Laura Salas, advocacy coordinator for AMARC–Mxico, August 2010.
“Mexico Facebook Statistics,” Socialbakers, http://www.socialbakers.com/facebook-statistics/mexico/last-3-months#chartintervals, accessed February 14, 2011.
“There Are 148,000 Accounts of Mexican Users on Twitter,” Latin Daily Financial News, February 9, 2010, http://www.latindailyfinancialnews.com/index.php/en/business/mexico/3956-there-are-148-thousand-accounts-of-mexicanusers-on-twitter.html; “Twitter en Mxico, algunos numerous” [Twitter in Mexico, some numbers], http://www.webadictos.com.mx/2010/02/08/twitter-en-mexico-algunos-numeros/, accessed February 14, 2011.
Miguel Castillo, “Mexico: Citizen Journalism in the Middle of Drug Trafficking Violence,” Global Voices, May 5, 2010, http://globalvoicesonline.org/2010/05/05/mexico-citizen-journalism-in-the-middle-of-drug-trafficking-violence/.
MEXICO FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net was forced to withdraw the proposal.38 Finally, in July 2010, the Periodistas de a Pi movement launched a campaign called “Los queremos vivos” to protest attacks against journalists, using Twitter and Facebook to organize rallies and demand government action.
The campaign organizers were able to gather approximately 1,000 journalists, with demonstrations taking place in Mexico City, Tijuana, Culiacn, and elsewhere.39 In advance of federal elections in 2009, a number of NGOs adapted the crowdsourcing platform Ushahidi to track reports of vote-buying by citizens, eventually leading to additional investigations by the special prosecutor.40 Despite these successes, online activism remains limited to a small community, as many of the most popular bloggers address personal topics rather than engaging in political or social commentary.In addition to civil society uses of social media tools, all political parties participating in the 2009 elections launched online campaigns to reach potential voters, with some candidates using Twitter or Facebook to communicate their platforms.42 In a more disturbing trend, drug cartels have also begun using social media applications to exchange information on military checkpoints, prompting calls by some Mexican politicians for increased government monitoring and regulation of these tools.VIOLATIONS OF USER RIGHTS The constitution guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The federal criminal defamation law was repealed in 2007, but civil insult laws remain on the books, and criminal defamation statutes exist in 17 of Mexico’s 32 states.44 During 2009, local press freedom watchdogs reported several cases of harassing lawsuits against journalists,45 though Renata Avila, “#InternetNecesario,” Technology for Transparency Network, February 13, 2010, http://transparency.globalvoicesonline.org/project/internetnecesario.
National Center for Social Communication, “Cientos marchan por la Libertad de Expression” [Hundreds March for Freedom of Expression], Campaa Permanente, August 9, 2010, http://www.libertad-expresion.org.mx/tag/los-queremos-vivos/ (in Spanish).
Susannah Vila, “Cuidemos el Voto” [Care for the Vote], Technology for Transparency Network, April 27, 2010, http://transparency.globalvoicesonline.org/project/cuidemos-el-voto.
Kaitlyn Wilkins, “Social Media in Mexico: 5 Things You Need to Know,” Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, September 24, 2009, http://blog.ogilvypr.com/2009/09/social-media-in-mexico-5-things-you-need-to-know/.
Octavio Islas, Amaia Arribas, and Erika Minera, “El empleo propagandstico de Internet 2.0 en campaas a puestos de eleccin ciudadana, Estado de Mxico, Julio 2009” [The Use of Web 2.0 Propaganda in Campaigns for Elected Office, State of Mexico, July 2009], Razon y Palabra 14 no. 70 (November 2009–January 2010), http://www.razonypalabra.org.mx/N/N70/Final_Argentina.pdf (in Spanish).
Alexis Okeowo, “To Battle Cartels, Mexico Weighs Twitter Crackdown,” Time, April 14, 2010, http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1981607,00.html/r:t#ixzz0laM8OTIa.
Article 19, “State of Veracruz Decriminalizes Defamation,” International Freedom of Expression eXchange, July 26, 2010, http://www.ifex.org/mexico/2010/07/27/defamation_decriminalised/.
See for example Periodistas en Linea [Online Journalists], “Caso Sosa Casteln vs. Alfredo Rivera Flores y Miguel Angel Granados Chapa,” news release, http://www.periodistasenlinea.org/modules.phpop=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=9684 (in Spanish), accessed November 22, 2010.
MEXICO FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net there have been no such cases lodged against online journalists. A 2009 Supreme Court decision expanded the range of reporting protected from state defamation laws, and some states have gradually followed the federal lead in decriminalization. These positive changes to the legal environment presumably also benefit online journalists and bloggers.
There are no legal provisions enabling the monitoring of internet activity, and online surveillance is not a serious concern in Mexico. However, in recent years, some scandals have emerged in which the authorities recorded mobile-phone calls by politicians or private individuals. In addition, a law passed in 2008 mandated that mobile-phone companies keep a registry of communications and text messages for use by law enforcement agencies in combating extortion and kidnappings.46 Critics expressed doubt that the authorities would securely store the information to protect users’ privacy, especially given past failures by the state to safeguard such data.47 Nevertheless, 70 percent of users complied with the registration requirement by the deadline, in part due to threats that their line would be cancelled if they did not. The government then extended the deadline, and it was anticipated that most users would be registered by late 2010.
Violence against traditional media journalists has increased sharply since 2006, with reporters probing police issues, drug trafficking, and official corruption facing a high risk of physical harm. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 22 journalists have been killed in Mexico in connection with their work since 1992.48 The National Human Rights Commission, which is more liberal in its definition of journalism-related deaths, cites 64 killings since 2000.49 This phenomenon has been exacerbated by widespread impunity for those carrying out such attacks. While there have been no reports of physical attacks or killings in retaliation for online forms of expression, some prominent bloggers retain their anonymity for fear of potential reprisals.Cyberattacks are not a serious problem in Mexico, especially compared to other countries in the region like Brazil. However, in July 2010, a Mexican man claimed responsibility for an attack that caused Google searches of the word “vaticano” to be redirected to the website pedifilo.com, as a critique of cases of pedophilia within the Catholic church. “En Mxico Todas las Conversaciones Telefnicas Sern Grabadas y se Guardarn Durante Un Ao” [In Mexico, All Telephone Conversations Will Be Recorded and Stored for One Year], Babel Del Norte, December 16, 2008, http://www.babeldelnorte.com/index.phpview=article&catid=39%3Acultura&id=719%3Aen-mexico-todas-lasconversaciones-telefonicas-seran-grabadas-y-se-guardaran-por-un-ano (in Spanish).
Miguel Castillo, “Mexico: Fear and Intimidation in Electronic Media,” Global Voices, May 12, 2010, http://globalvoicesonline.org/2010/05/12/mexico-fear-and-intimidation-in-electronic-media/.
Committee to Protect Journalists, “22 Journalists Killed in Mexico Since 1992/Motive Confirmed,” http://cpj.org/killed/americas/mexico/, accessed August 25, 2010.
“UN, OAS Rips Mexico Over Freedom of Expression,” Latin American Herald Tribune, August 26, 2010, http://laht.com/article.aspArticleId=364380&CategoryId=14091.
Olga R. Rodriguez, “Narco-Blogger Beats Mexico Drug War News Blackout,” Associated Press, August 12, 2010, http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gB8cHuobTuv0x63xhVQURz0zomFQD9HI77O81.
“Mexican Claims Responsibility for Cyber Attack Against Vatican on Google,” Catholic News Agency (CAN), July 21, 2010, http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/mexican-claims-responsibility-for-cyber-attack-against-the-vatican-on-google/.
MEXICO FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net NIGERIA 2009 POPULATION: 158.3million INTERNET FREEDOM n/a Partly INTERNET PENETRATION: 28 percent STATUS Free WEB 2.0 APPLICATIONS BLOCKED: No Obstacles to Access n/a SUBSTANTIAL POLITICAL CENSORSHIP: No Limits on Content n/a BLOGGERS/ONLINE USERS ARRESTED: No Violations of User Rights n/a PRESS FREEDOM STATUS: Partly Free Total n/a INTRODUCTION In 1999, Nigeria returned to civilian governance after almost 30 years of military rule.Press freedom and the space for free expression have since increased. Nevertheless, the legal and political environment for traditional media remains harsh, and a number of journalists have been killed in recent years. Online media have been comparatively free from such restrictions to date, though two bloggers were detained for questioning in late 2008. The Nigerian authorities do not carry out any filtering of content, and while access to information technology is still limited for many Nigerians, the number of internet users nearly quadrupled between 2008 and 2010. Several recent legislative initiatives have raised concerns that the relative freedom and privacy enjoyed by online journalists and writers may come under threat in the near future.
The internet was first introduced in the early 1990s, and usage grew more popular following an internet workshop organized by the Yaba College of Technology in 1995.Internet access expanded as cybercafes sprang up in major cities across Nigeria in 1999, though it was still expensive and connections were very slow. The introduction of internet access via mobile-phone service in 2004 spurred further increases in internet use.
Abegunrin Olayiwola, Nigerian Foreign Policy Under Military Rule, 1966–1999 (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003).
The workshop was hosted by the Yaba College of Technology in Lagos in collaboration with the Nigerian Communications Commission, the National Data Bank, the Literacy Training and Development Program for Africa (University of Ibadan), the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON), the United States Information Service (USIS), the Regional Information Network for Africa (RINAF), and the British Council. United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, “Nigeria: Internet Connectivity,” http://www.uneca.org/aisi/nici/country_profiles/Nigeria/nigeriainter.htm, accessed August 27, 2010.