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Mexican Youth Protest 'Anti-Freedom of Expression' Telecom Bill

The new legislation allows the Mexican govt. to block cell phone signals during protests, censor websites and keep cell phone records.
Photo by Andalusia Knoll

For the past decade the Molotov song "Gimme the Power" has served as an anthem of youth rebellion decrying corrupt police and politicians in Mexico.

This week, its lyrics became the banner under which thousands of young people protested online and in the streets against Mexico's new telecommunications law, which they believe infringes on their civil rights.

The new legislation allows the Mexican government to block cell phone signals during protests, discretionary censor websites without a judge's permission, and keep a record of all cell phone communications for a two-year minimum.


It also fails to guarantee the rights of community radio stations and does not allow for the creation of more public media outlets.

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The Telecom legislation will allow the government to censor and sanction "certain types of internet content related to good customs, life and other moral concepts that are very ambiguous," according to Omar Rabago, the director of CENCOS, a Mexican human rights non-profit group.

Rabago added that this in a direct violation of citizens right to freedom of expression.

In recent months, the U.S. has come under severe criticism for its extensive espionage networks.

Activists in Mexico say that increased surveillance can have more deadly implications in their country where politicians and police are often in cahoots with organized crime networks.

Kidnappings, extortion and disappearances are daily occurrences in Mexico and digital rights activist Luis Fernando Garcia believes that by giving the government further power to track cell phones and build data banks, "we are giving [drug cartels] the tools to attack us."

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Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto, claimed that his telecommunications legislation would limit the power of large media monopolies but activists claim it does just the opposite.

Members of the youth movement #YoSoy132 helped organize Thursday's protest and denounced Peña-Nieto's relation with Televisa, the world's biggest Spanish-language broadcaster. During his presidential campaign it was revealed that Peña-Nieto received illegal publicity from Televisa.

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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.

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