How is the momentum toward multistakeholderism in Internet governance playing out in Latin America? What broader implications does this have to open democracy in the region? In this report, Internet Policy Observatory affiliate Celia Lerman, analyzes the distinct evolution of the multistakeholder model in the context of Latin America’s democracies, which traditionally have not incorporated deliberative processes and multistakeholder participation into governance structures. Lerman asserts that this evolution can be explained by the effect of external events rather than by internal driving forces, concluding that this policy evolution moved from the international to the regional and national due to the fact Internet policy issues only recently became a matter of perceived importance to citizens in the region. The study looks at Latin America as a whole, highlighting several national case studies and exploring in greater depth Brazil’s much earlier adoption of the multistakeholder model.
The question of how Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) affect internet policy is crucial for the global evolution of the internet. Although countries agree that no nations should impose restrictions on the development of the internet in other nations, FTAs are playing an important role in shaping local internet regulations. Indeed, since the implementation of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS) in 1995, FTAs have commonly included international intellectual property obligations. Through FTAs, some countries are bilaterally agreeing to obligations related to local internet operations, in exchange for more favorable trade conditions. This situation has led many countries to alter their internet systems with transplanted foreign regulations, which are frequently inadequate to meet local needs, and in the worst cases, it poses severe threats to internet users’ rights. This paper analyses the landscape of FTAs that impact internet policy in Latin America. It shows how FTAs have shaped internet policy in a network of countries – in many cases, leading these countries to create regulations that have not undergone local public scrutiny.