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Censorship Government The Internet The Media

Venezuela's Chavez To Limit Internet Freedom 452

Posted by Soulskill
from the learning-from-china's-fine-example dept.
terets1 writes "Reuters reports that Venezuela's leader, Hugo Chavez, issued a call on Saturday for 'internet controls' to prevent rumors and inaccurate reporting from spreading. He specifically cited a case in which a website incorrectly reported that a senior minister had been assassinated and kept the story up for two days. Many of Venezuela's opposition movements use social networking sites to communicate. It is not apparent at this time exactly what kind of controls Chavez has in mind or whether those controls will be similar to the controls in Iran that have been used to silence opposition movements. Chavez said, 'The Internet cannot be something open where anything is said and done. Every country has to apply its own rules and norms.'"
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Venezuela's Chavez To Limit Internet Freedom

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  • Way to go (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @11:37AM (#31472322)
    I guess Chavez has decided to follow the same path that every other communist leader has followed? "We cannot allow openness if it means people will disagree with me."
    • Re:Way to go (Score:5, Informative)

      by binarylarry (1338699) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @11:39AM (#31472344)

      You must be new... to Venezula.

      They used to have private TV broadcasters you know...

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        You must be new...to America. Private broadcasting does not mean openness or lack of censorship (*cough* drugs). Neither does public broadcasting imply censorship.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Scrameustache (459504)

        You must be new... to Venezula.

        They used to have private TV broadcasters you know...

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Venezuelan_television_channels [wikipedia.org]

        "Used to", huh?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by GreatBunzinni (642500)

      If you had read Reuter's report you would know that Chavez' complain was due to a website posting an completely made up and unfounded news report that a senior minister and close aidee to Chavez was assassinated. That website knowingly reported that news and kept the report on it's site for days, although it was blatantly false. This news report covers Chavez' reaction to that, in which he criticizes the spread of false, made up information. He doesn't criticize openness.

      The thing is, I bet your country d

      • Re:Way to go (Score:4, Informative)

        by HungryHobo (1314109) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @12:56PM (#31472872)

        If you had done 10 seconds research you'd have noticed that this wasn't about a news story posted on the website.
        It was some random users posting a rumour on the forums.
        Not the website owners.

        Essentially he wants to kill open online forums.

        From google translate:

        On the evening of Saturday, the President of the Republic Hugo Chávez has asked the Attorney General's Office and the Minister Diosdado Cabello take legal action against this site by false rumors posted two new forumers in one of our forums and concerned the alleged murder of two ombudsmen linked to the Government.

        Chavez wants to silence anyone who doesn't agree with him.
        Can we just accept that he's evil yet?
        he's been making the effort to convince us all for a while but some people don't seem to want to listen.

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        If you had didn't make up your opinions from what a dictator said his motives were, you'd see that this is not a source that one can trust.

        Simple example: just yesterday a TV channel in Georgia (former USSR republic) has announced that the president (Saakashvilli) was killed, that Russian forces have entered the country, bombed cities, airfields, power plants, that they have taken over.

        So this is a TV station, all of which are under complete control by the government. See anything suspicious?

        My point is th

    • Re:Way to go (Score:5, Insightful)

      by causality (777677) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @12:10PM (#31472568)

      I guess Chavez has decided to follow the same path that every other communist leader has followed? "We cannot allow openness if it means people will disagree with me."

      While Communism encourages this behavior, it does not hold a monopoly on it. Plenty of non-Communists in businesses and governments everywhere are this way. Remember that corporations are essentially dictatorships and that the type of politician who "knows what's good for you" does not ask whether you agree. Even "because I said so" parents and teachers exhibit this behavior (and condition people to accept it from a young age).

      The inability to handle dissent is just an essential feature of the authoritarian mentality. I think it's caused by both an inability to lead by example (i.e. hypocrisy) and a profound personal insecurity that makes the person feel they need to be "right" no matter what. That's why anyone who offers dissent, however well-founded, is seen as an enemy and must be shut down. Nowhere in this do you find an awareness of the person's fallibility or an ability to feel gratitude towards those who help them shed false ideas. Their overinflated egos won't allow that. That's why it never occurs to these people that truly sound policies and truly good actions have nothing to fear from scrutiny.

      It's also more evidence that Frank Herbert was right when he said: "All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted."

      • Re:Way to go (Score:4, Insightful)

        by haxor.dk (463614) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @12:59PM (#31472888) Homepage

        >While Communism encourages this behavior, it does not hold a monopoly on it. Plenty of non-Communists in businesses and governments everywhere are this way. Remember that corporations are essentially dictatorships and that the type of politician who "knows what's good for you" does not ask whether you agree. Even "because I said so" parents and teachers exhibit this behavior (and condition people to accept it from a young age).

        True, but a strawman. Corporations rarely hold the broad scope of powers that governments do. Parents ditto. (Consumers can choose to not buy from a corporation they dislike; children can typically run away from abusive parents and seek refuge with neighbours and family. Seekign refuge from government is another matter entirely as history will show you.). Also, both of the aforementioned rarely their their so-called dicatatorial powers to the excesses that governments do, especially government led by politically-religious folks ala Charvez.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by causality (777677)

          >While Communism encourages this behavior, it does not hold a monopoly on it. Plenty of non-Communists in businesses and governments everywhere are this way. Remember that corporations are essentially dictatorships and that the type of politician who "knows what's good for you" does not ask whether you agree. Even "because I said so" parents and teachers exhibit this behavior (and condition people to accept it from a young age).

          True, but a strawman. Corporations rarely hold the broad scope of powers that governments do. Parents ditto. (Consumers can choose to not buy from a corporation they dislike; children can typically run away from abusive parents and seek refuge with neighbours and family. Seekign refuge from government is another matter entirely as history will show you.). Also, both of the aforementioned rarely their their so-called dicatatorial powers to the excesses that governments do, especially government led by politically-religious folks ala Charvez.

          How is that a strawman? The point was not the scope or extent of the power. The point was the arbitrary way that it is exercised and the fact that justification of its use is an afterthought if it is provided at all. It's the difference between "because I am in charge and I said so" versus "because I believe it's the most reasonable way to proceed, and here are my factual reasons explaining why I think so; please let me know if new evidence comes to light."

          That distinction can be made whether the situ

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by roystgnr (4015)

            The point was not the scope or extent of the power. The point was the arbitrary way that it is exercised and the fact that justification of its use is an afterthought if it is provided at all.

            By that weak definition, everyone is a "dictatorship", and so your definition is useless. For example, you have absolutely no power to change the color of my bathroom walls. I did nothing to justify their color to you, and any justification I gave you now would sound quite arbitrary. I'm in charge of my own property

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by introspekt.i (1233118)
        Exactly, it's not Communism at all, but Authoritarianism that's the broken feature here. That's not to say Communism does or doesn't work (though I'm inclined to think that any pure "isms" has its issues). I think Venezuela could use a healthy dose of libertarianism (little l), but then again, couldn't we all?

        Now that I've mentioned so many "isms" I'm inclined to include this quote:

        "A person shouldn't believe in isms, he should believe in himself." -- Ferris Bueller, Ferris Bueller's Day Off
    • Chavez is more that just a communist leader. He's wacky as well. Sort of the Kim Il Jong of South America.

      Fidel Castro was suppressive, but not really wacky.

      Chavez called for a ban on video games, and that children should play with tradition toys, like yo-yo's.

      Now, that is not just suppressive, that is just plain wacky.

      A yo-yo? Yes, Mr. Chavez, it takes one to know one.

      But I guess there are a more than a few North American politicians who have the same idea as well.

      • by causality (777677)

        Fidel Castro was suppressive, but not really wacky.

        Only because we generally fail to realize that truly sane individuals have no desire to control other people.

  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @11:37AM (#31472328)
    This isn't shocking. In fact, I'm surprised it took him this long. Maybe someone should give Mr Chavez China's number so he can get some first hand tips on how to handle this.
    • http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/11/sean-penn-hugo-chavez-venezuela [guardian.co.uk]

      Wonder who is classified a dictator in his mind...

    • This isn't shocking. In fact, I'm surprised it took him this long.

      Keep holding your breath: "but the socialist leader has not given any sign that he is planning such a move." -TFA

      It's as though the headline was somehow giving an impression that something more sensational is happening... Shocking!

    • by arielCo (995647)

      I'm surprised it took him this long.

      This is precisely what happened to Venezuelan opposition. They cried wolf from at first signs of his intentions, and it didn't happen right away. That cost them a LOT of credibility, and the metaphorical frog did nothing as it felt the water warming up around it.

    • I don't get it. A website falsely claims that a government minister was assassinated and keeps posting it for days. So when Chavez complains that that particular website shouldn't be allowed to falsely claim that a minister was killed then Chavez is suddenly a dictator? Where exactly do you base that conclusion on?

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by ralx (1660641)
        He didn't simply complain, he called to control what can be seen or written on internet. Actually Venezuelan government has been already working on a single point of access to Internet under a "better performance" false claim.
        • I don't get it. Chavez complained about defamation campaigns and even rally calls to execute yet another coup d'etat on Chavez. He complained that that sort of actions are illegal and therefore shouldn't be allowed to happen. Where exactly did you started reading and where exactly did you base yourself to claim that what he wants is "control" the media?

  • Prior art (Score:5, Funny)

    by the_raptor (652941) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @11:43AM (#31472370)

    This shows how intellectually bankrupt Chavez is ... stealing this idea from the Australian government. Next he will be stealing from America and giving billions in untraceable loans to mismanaged corporations.

    • by mcwop (31034)
      It is weird the U.S. is a lot of things, but we probably have some of the most open speech amongst many developed countries.

      On those untraceable loans, we all know where those went - just follow the political contributions.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The first reaction to news like this -- rated up twice in a minute, mind you -- is to look at this issue through a hyperpartisan lens.

    The desire to curtail freedom on the Internet comes not from the right or the left, but the powerful. Anybody with a computer can have a voice, and as with the copyright industries there is a wish to turn back the hands of time rather than to adjust to the new reality, progress be damned.

    It's time to shed partisanship and take a very real look at the role the

    • FYI I skipped your post because of the stupid megafont style.

      • At least it wasn't in all italics this time. Oy carumba. If the AC wants to heard so badly he/she can always sign in and put some backbone where his/her font size is.
  • Hugo Chavez has promised to speed up "the construction of true socialism" in Venezuela now that he can stand for re-election indefinitely. "We have exploded the barriers to a permanent socialist revolution [newstechnica.com]."

    Chavez has already taken control of the country's vast oil wealth, expropriated private landholdings and businesses and instituted a programme of deep social reforms. He has attacked the "distribution of wealth" problem by destroying as much of it as possible. After Chávez promised to nationalise

    • by hitmark (640295)

      have the stock exchange ever been a good indicator of wealth? About the only thing its good at is allowing people with more money or credit then brains to trade paper for paper in a endless circle jerk.

  • Responsible (Score:3, Insightful)

    by headkase (533448) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @12:03PM (#31472510)
    Everyone must be "responsible" for their words. Responsibility begins with registering your nicknames along with your address for our thugs.
  • That's the plan (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Incubusxp (1107147) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @12:06PM (#31472530) Homepage
    In Venezuela the freedom of speech is the greatest in the world. In Television News anchors openly talk about killing the president, they make calls for a coup d'etat, all this goes for newspapers and radio stations. People can say and think whatever thay want. There has been 11 years of this. And they still say that there is no freedom of speech in Venezuela. I watch how the world sees Venezuela, they show a country in total war with mass killings, wich is total bullshit. Yes there was a time 2002-2003 where there was a fight and a coup d'etat, wich the people fought to get their president back and they won, the vast majority of Venezuelans won. This small faction of what we call "media terrorist" who own private TV stations, radio, and newspapers still attack their own country by lying to them. Im venezuelan, if you want to know the truth of whats happening here, come to Venezuela, to any part of it, and you will see peace, a beautiful country.
    • Re:That's the plan (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 14, 2010 @12:53PM (#31472854)

      In Venezuela the freedom of speech is the greatest in the world. In Television News anchors openly talk about killing the president, they make calls for a coup d'etat, all this goes for newspapers and radio stations.

      [citation needed]

      People can say and think whatever thay want.

      "Think", yes; there's no Thought Police in sight. "Say", yes too unless it's printed / broadcast in any major news outlet, and even then you only have to pack up in advance of the defamation "suit".

      There has been 11 years of this. And they still say that there is no freedom of speech in Venezuela. I watch how the world sees Venezuela, they show a country in total war with mass killings, wich is total bullshit.

      Again [citation needed]. Straw man anyone?

      Yes there was a time 2002-2003 where there was a fight and a coup d'etat, wich the people fought to get their president back and they won, the vast majority of Venezuelans won. This small faction of what we call "media terrorist" who own private TV stations, radio, and newspapers still attack their own country by lying to them.

      They attack their government, which is not the same. Shall I explain the difference to you?

      Im venezuelan, if you want to know the truth of whats happening here, come to Venezuela, to any part of it, and you will see peace, a beautiful country.

      Yeah, I guess 16,000 homicides last year [el-nacional.com] in a 24MM people country make for a lot of peace on the streets. And 27% inflation brings rainbows and puppies all around.

  • This sort of thing will not be considered in Europe or North America, and us residents of those places will pat ourselves on the back for our love of liberty...

    The difference between Venezuela and our countries is that in our countries, the ruling class own both the media and politicians. In Venezuela, they just own the media.

    Chavez has some bad policies, and we're right to criticise those policies, but the context is important for forming an accurate opinion rather than a knee-jerk chauvinist one.

    • by hitmark (640295)

      hrmf, world politics are run on absolutes, while context leads to endless shades of gray. So in essence, context be damned...

  • wild west (Score:2, Insightful)

    by McGiraf (196030)

    The wild west day of the internet are almost over.

    The internet can now give power to individuals, corporations and governments (and the US corpovernment ) will not let this go on for long, unless ...

  • by arielCo (995647) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @12:10PM (#31472576)
    The rumor was posted anonymously in well-known forum Noticiero Digital [noticierodigital.com], which is intermittently moderated, if at all. Local TV news station Globovisión (strongly critical of Chávez's government, and a frequent target of regulatory action) quotes Chávez [globovision.com] (in Spanish):

    The internet cannot be a free thing, each country has its rules. Regulation and laws. All these pages have an administrator. We must act. We're going to request support from the Attorney General.

    This is not acceptable, that they broadcast whatever they want, poisoning the minds of many people

    Noticiero Digital (listen, this is very grave): "Breaking news; Diosdado Cabello [wikipedia.org] murdered" [...] Someone has to be responsible here because these pages cannot be free for what you to want to say. There are laws here and they must be obeyed.

    Link to original video: Dailymotion - Chávez pide actuar contra ND [dailymotion.com] (in Spanish).

  • This report provides a great opportunity to see how the anti-Chavez croud is prone to knee-jerk reactions while so poorly informed. The thing is, the report which this slashdot post is based on only mentions that Chavez complained about a specific website posting false information. More specifically, the offending website, which is ran by an anti-Chavez faction, made up a story about how one of Chavez' cabinet ministers was assassinated and kept the made up story on it's site for days, although it was rep

  • by Low Ranked Craig (1327799) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @01:02PM (#31472912)
    and risking jail time, what else do you expect form a dictator?
  • anyone who opposes the US acting like it owns the world in general and the hemisphere in particular is alright by me.

  • by gmuslera (3436)
    Things like this shows why internet, in its pure, free (in all meanings), unfiltered and universally available way should get a nobel peace prize. And why all that claim to be free countries must push forward to make it keep going in that way, or face what they really are.
  • is there any difference in between directly censoring something because it is detrimental to your interests and indirectly making them subdue by legal claims of ownership and patents ?

    in the former, at least everyone knows it is censorship. in the latter censorship is veiled with seemingly valid excuses. in the end both end up the same.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @01:33PM (#31473126)

    Venezuela is sitting on one of the largest oil reservoirs outside the US and the middle east. To make matters worse, they kicked out foreign oil companies because they want to exploit them themselves.

    So I can see a lot of interest to oust the current government. By domestic and international interests that would love to see Chavez gone. Please do note that I neither say it is so nor that it ain't so. I am not in Venezuela, I just watch the whole deal from afar with a keen interest because Venezuela and the thing going on in the country and around it are a prime example of a propaganda war happening.

    Take EVERYTHING you hear about Venezuela with a grain of salt. Make that an ounce. Or more. Verify with as many sources as you can, and forget about "independent sources". If you can find one, please inform me, I couldn't. Take all the propaganda from ALL sides and draw your conclusions afterwards.

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