Latin America and the Caribbean
Latin America and the Caribbean have experienced significant political, military and economic changes over the last century, with ICT policies across the region reflecting the divergent political and economic trajectories of individual countries.
Many countries in the region have slow internet speeds (ex: Argentina: 6.4 Mbps, Venezuela: 2.2 Mbps, Cuba, 1.8 Mbps), while others such as Uruguay (24.3 Mbps) and Chile (15.7 Mbps) offer higher quality and speedier broadband connections. Internet penetration is also relatively lower in some parts of the region (ex: Cuba: 32.4%, Guatemala: 26.5%), while higher in average in the entire region (56.6%) than the world average of around 46%. Most of the ICT-related research conducted in the late 90s and early 2000s covered access and infrastructure issues, while more recent research focuses more on issues such as information manipulation by governments, censorship, changing cyberspace laws in Brazil, liberalization of telecommunications, e-government, and usage of the internet in community centers, education, development and public institutions. Moreover, the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance was held in Brazil on 23-24 April 2014, and ended in the non-binding ‘NETmundial Multistakeholder Statement’ which stated principles for internet governance and a road map for the future of internet governance. The Brazilian Civil Rights Framework for the Internet (Marco Civil da Internet) was approved by the Federal Senate of Brazil on 22 April and sanctioned by the president Dilma Rousseff on April 23 at the beginning of this meeting.
It is rather easier to find up-to-date studies on many different internet issues in countries with higher internet penetration and broadband speeds, such as Chile, Costa Rica, and Mexico, possibly due to the availability of data and information There is not a great amount of research in the literature on smaller countries, especially ones in Central America and the Caribbean region, such as many US territories including Puerto Rico and US Virgin Island, and smaller islands with almost no internet penetration among the local population like the Bahamas, Barbados and Santa Lucia. Recently, much attention has been paid to the future of the internet in Cuba, one of the countries in the world that were introduced to the internet much later than others. Within the research, there has been work conducted on the restrictions of freedom on the Cuban internet, especially regarding social networking platforms, as well as the quality of connection and possibility of politically-motivated consequences. There are numerous studies on digital divide in the region. Thus, only a few were selected here to address a more diverse set of approaches and be able to represent other issues.
Gomez, R. 2000. “The Hall of Mirrors: The Internet in Latin America.” Current History. Vol. 99(634). 72-77.
This short article begins by describing the rapid penetration of the internet in Latin America in the late 90s. It compares the abundance and usage of content in English and in Spanish, while providing examples of how Latin American governments used these newly available contexts to censor or manipulate information. The author argues that, while ICTs are not positive or negative developments in their nature, they are not neutral either. Hence, this “hall of mirrors” analogy is explained in the existing political and cultural structures shaping the way Latin American governments and citizens were starting to use the internet, and how such usage affected the continuing conflicts and problems in the region economically and politically.
Hilbert, M., & Katz, J. 2003. Building an information society: A Latin American and Caribbean perspective. Santiago de Chile: ECLAC.
This book is a detailed resource regarding the development of the entire region of Latin America and the Caribbean as a collection of information societies. It starts with a theoretical background on information societies, developmental implications of ICTs, and technology-based divides. The book then discusses the issues and opportunities ICTs create for the people of Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as implications of those on businesses, governments, societies and daily usages of ICTs.
Molloy, M. 2005. “The Internet in Latin America: Development and Reference Sources.” Journal of Library Administration. Vol. 43(3/4). 129-147.
This article outlines the development of the internet in Latin America, and availability of scholarly resources to researchers working in the interdisciplinary field of Latin American Studies. The author, who is an academic librarian, investigates the access to and usage of academic resources including public / free access and subscription databases, collections of electronic journals and websites providing historical materials in digital form.
Galperin, H., & Bar, F. 2006. “The Microtelco Opportunity: Evidence from Latin America.” Information Technologies & International Development. Vol. 3(2). 73-86.
In this study about microtelcos, small-scale telecom operators that utilize factors such as low-cost technologies and local entrepreneurship. The authors report the gaps in access to ICT networks and services between the rich and the poor, as well as people living in urban and rural areas in Latin America. They argue that public subsidies fell short of closing these gaps, while microtelcos could prove useful in bringing information and communication technologies to the poor, especially those living in rural areas. They also provide suggestions on how existing regulatory obstacles may be removed for better access to these technologies by the poor.
Aguerre, C., & Galperin, H. 2015. “Internet Policy Formation in Latin America: Understanding the Links Between the National, the Regional, and the Global.”
This report uses case studies on development of internet governance mechanisms in Latin America in a comparative approach to outline the recent developments in policymaking, multistakeholderism and international collaboration. It describes the formalization of policymaking processes in contrast to previous informal mechanisms which led to the emergence of the internet in these countries and are now found insufficient.
Petrazzini, B. A., & Guerrero, A. 2000. “Promoting Internet Development: The Case of Argentina.” Telecommunications Policy. Vol. 24(2). 89-112.
This article discusses the improvements in internet penetration in Argentina. The article argues that two main policy decisions helped the market profile and structure in Argentina to catch up with the rest of the region: (1) reductions in prices for the lines, (2) creation of separate dialing schemes for internet connections, therefore making it more affordable to have access to the internet.
Rohrmann, C. A. 2006. “Legal Aspects of Electronic Criminal Evidence in Brazil.” International Review of Law, Computers & Technology. Vol. 20(1/2). 77-93.
This article analyzes the implications of two federal statutes by the Brazilian Congress which respectively, allow interception of telecommunications in very specific situations and criminalizes the interception of telecommunications without proper authorization. The author discusses these two in relation to the usage of electronic evidence and existing/future legal issues regarding the changes brought by these statutes. Accordingly, the author elaborates on possible outcomes and assesses the constitutionality of the developments.
Opice Blum, R., & Ferreira Blum, R. P. 2013. “Recent Developments in Cyberspace Law: A View from Brazil.” Business Lawyer. Vol. 69(1). 301-305.
This article investigates the legal developments regarding cyberspace in Brazil as of November 2013, and legal aspects of internet usage and electronic commerce. The authors focus on various issues including human rights, Brazilian criminal laws, protection of the internet users, cybersecurity and consumer rights.
Taylor, D. 2014. “NETmundial ‘Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance’.” Journal of Internet Law. Vol. 17(12).
The author outlines the purposes and initial outcomes of the Global Multistakeholder Meeting held in Brazil in April 2014 on the future of internet governance, where a statement was presented as a result to follow two issue as ‘the principles of internet governance’ and ‘the future of the internet governance ecosystem’. According to the statement, future of the internet governance ecosystem depends on principles of multistakeholderism, openness, participation, consensus-driven governance, transparency, accountability, inclusiveness and equity, decentralization, collaboration, and enabling meaningful participation. While the author agrees with the message of multistakeholderism in the statement, he thinks the idea is still unripe and it will need the support of other parties in the world that are discontent about the role of ICANN regarding the relevant accountability and transparency issues.
Hawkins, E. T. 2005. “Creating a National Strategy for Internet Development in Chile.” Telecommunications Policy. Vol. 29(5–6). 351-365.
This article examines Chile as a successful case of reducing the digital divide, outlining how government policies increase internet access tenfold between 1998 and 2002. Examining the literature and the debates about the internet in Chile, the author describes how public opinion affected government policies, and how such policies increased internet access. The policies subject to discussion in the article include lowering rates, connecting networks, establishing public access centers and setting up e-commerce legislation.
Hidalgo, J., & Oviedo, J. D. 2014. “The impact of Broadband Quality Standards on Internet Services Market Structure in Colombia.” 25th European Regional Conference of the International Telecommunications Society (ITS), Brussels, Belgium, 22-25 June 2014.
This article investigates the effects of broadband speed and quality standards on the improvement of internet access and the structure of the internet services market in Colombia. Such quality standards are based on connection speeds, especially as measures to eliminate discrimination in access based on location, supplier, fees and download and upload speeds. The authors argue that the standards required from internet service providers created product differentiation and increase in demand.
Siles, I. 2012. “Establishing the Internet in Costa Rica: Co-optation and the Closure of Technological Controversies.” The Information Society. Vol. 28(1). 13-23.
This article discusses two forces that aimed to develop computing networks in Costa Rica, the academic, sociotechnical network, and the state-sponsored, commercial project. It examines the conflicts between these forces and how these were solved by the government co-opting some of the leading figures of the other group into its structure. The author provides examples of the implications of this co-optation.
Baron, G., & Hall, G. 2015. “Access Online: Internet Governance and Image in Cuba.” Bulletin of Latin American Research. Vol. 34(3). 340-355.
This article investigates the effects of internet restrictions on the socialist status quo in Cuba. While the internet may provide huge economic opportunities and better relations with the rest of the world, it is also seen as a force that may damage the status quo. The authors argue that the government is trying to find a balance between taking advantage of the internet’s potential benefits and keeping the political environment under control.
Vicari, S. 2015. “Exploring the Cuban Blogosphere: Discourse Networks and Informal Politics.” New Media & Society. Vol. 17(9). 1492-1512.
This article examines the newly emerging actors and content in the Cuban blogosphere. The author emphasizes the underdevelopment of the access to and usage of ICTs in Cuba and investigates how different blogs representing different ideological orientations are shaped, developed, and interacted with by other users both in Cuba and abroad. The findings show that blogs with different political stances have different levels and styles of interactions, and people use such platforms to discuss domestic political issues that are not usually debated in state- or U.S.-controlled mainstream media.
Luna-Reyes, L. F., Gil-Garcia J. R., & Cruz, C. B. 2007. “Collaborative Digital Government in Mexico: Some Lessons from Federal Web-Based Interorganizational Information Integration Initiatives.” Government Information Quarterly. Vol. 24(4). 808-826.
This article discusses the use of information and communication technologies in government as a tool for reform in administration. It emphasizes the necessity for collaboration and integration among different organizational bodies. According to the authors, the governmental institutions in Mexico fail to completely trust each other because of structural problems, and e-government initiatives result in systems that could enable cooperation between departments and institutions, but fail to do so. The authors explore how the structures and the organization of institutions may improve or hinder collaboration and integration among organizations.
Noll, R. 2009. “Priorities for Telecommunications Reform in Mexico.” Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
This paper discusses how the Mexican telecommunication sector has developed considerably after the privatization of the state-owned monopoly carrier. The author argues that this privatization led to a substantial increase in its efficiency, penetration and utilization also increased by the introduction of competition into all segments of the industry. The paper outlines the history of the reform and the developments after the reform, as well as providing suggestions for institutional changes that would improve performance.
Merritt, H. 2011. “Information Technologies and the Evolution of the Digital Divide in Mexico: A Public Policy Approach.” Análisis Económico. Vol. 26(62). 119-137.
In this article, the internet’s importance among other information technologies is emphasized based on its contribution to advancement in education, learning and knowledge. The author argues that improvements in access to the internet have been hindered due to misinterpretation of digital divide causes and investigates how government intervention may better influence diffusion of the internet in Mexico.
Curioso, W. H. 2009. “Internet Use and the Network Composition of People Living with HIV/AIDS in an Urban Area in Peru.” AIDS and Behavior. Vol. 14. 1371-1375.
This article reports the results of a study on the relationship between internet use and number of close ties of a person in general, and the percentage of HIV-positive individuals in the personal network of people living with HIV/AIDS in an urban area in Peru.
Guasch, J. C., & Ugas, L. 2007. “The Digital Gap in Maracaibo city in Venezuela.” Telematics & Informatics. Vol. 24(1). 41-47.
In this article, significant concepts and factors in information and communication technologies and the concept of digital gap are discussed. The study includes a survey made in Maracaibo, Venezuela, which aimed to determine the levels of access to ICTs and suggest government policies to reduce the digital gap. The authors found that more than half of the city did not have access to these technologies, mainly because they did not have computers or access to the internet. In fact, some did not even know what internet was. The authors suggest government policies to increase information literacy and ICT skills of the people.
Freedom House. Freedom on the Net Reports: 2015/2016
Venezuela, which has had the ‘partly free’ status in the last few years according to Freedom on the Net ratings of the Freedom House, has been known for its violations of user rights, restriction of content and access issues. Freedom House reports that there were several power outages, unexplained interruptions in internet services, blocked websites and prosecuted social media users in the years 2014 and 2015. Likewise, in 2016, arbitrary arrests of online reporters and obligation of users to delete images of protests and food ques, and deterioration of telecommunications services continued.