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Monday, February 21, 2005

Ecuadorian Internet Censorship

Xeni Jardin recently posted an entry on about an Ecuadorian internet company that has blocked users' access to certain websites online. The original posts that she cites, from alt1040 is written in Spanish. I have translated it into English below.

Ecuadorian ISP censors net content.

"Satnet, one of the largest providers of Internet access in Ecuador which charges 50 dollars for connections of 64kb per second has decided to censor net content, blocking access to any file-exchange services (P2P sites) and some sites such as HaloScan and Alt1040.

In an act that goes against their own usage-policy, the provider has given different excuses for different users, spreading light on their poor customer service and useless policy regulations.

Satnet users, calling to ask for explanations, have heard different versions:

The fiber optic connection has gone down.
The blockage comes from the board of directors.
The bandwidth management system wasn’t working as expected.
Access to P2P sites will be unblocked from 20h00 to 11h00

The underlying problem of the blockage doesn’t revolve around users not receiving their compete service (there are always alternatives), but rather in a lack of specific legislation. Consequently, companies can do almost anything they want and, via blockages, take control of what information their clients can and cannot obtain - this is how what is really a new form of media is able to be manipulated and censured. These types of things happen in China where democracy doesn’t exist.

If Satnet’s (or Telconet who rents the bandwidth to them) board of directors decided to block the service it was probably due to some type of pressure from some record company or from one of the major studios. This isn’t absolutely crazy if we consider that Satnet is owned by the cable company TVCable, which syndicates the programs of big companies like Viacom. It’s very easy to block and censor when there is no legal framework that protects the consumer."

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