Internet Governance and Free Expression in Latin America: A Panel Discussion with Experts

On January 22nd, as part of the Price Media Law Moot Court Americas Regional Round, CGCS’s Internet Policy Observatory (IPO) sponsored a panel discussion entitled “Internet Governance and Free Expression in Latin America.”

Against the background of discussions about the role of the press in Latin America, including issues of regulation and free expression in Argentina, Venezuela, Ecuador and elsewhere, this Panel focused on emerging attitudes toward Internet Governance in Latin America. Panelists analyzed and discussed the most recent regional shifts in narratives and policymaking with regard to privacy, free expression, and the internet. This seminar also focused on the upcoming international NETmundial summit to be hosted in Brazil that will bring government, industry, academia, and leaders to discuss these issues. Additionally, the conversation discussed the Marco Civil da Internet (which may or not be enacted into law), its implications, as well as other changing approaches to regulation of the internet.

Panelists Eduardo Bertoni (Center for Studies on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information), Carolina Rossini (New America Foundation), Marcel Leonardi (Google Brazil), and Erika Watanabe Patriota (Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations) discussed issues such as…

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Internet Policy Formation in Latin America: Understanding the links between national, regional and global dynamics

//Hernan Galperin of the Universidad de San Andrés and Carolina Aguerre, general manager of the LACTLD, discuss their ongoing research on the emergence of internet policy in Latin America.

Brazil is widely recognized as a global leader in the internet policy field. But what is going on with other countries in the region? Following the revelations about widespread network surveillance by security agencies, internet policy issues have become much more prominent in national policy agendas in Latin America. Governments from Mexico to Argentina have started initiatives to address surveillance, privacy, network neutrality, and many of the other complex issues in internet policy. What do these initiatives have in common? Are they guided by similar principles and incentives? Are the national policy dynamics similar? Are there similar configurations of policy actors?

In this research project we seek to understand the incentives and dynamics of the emerging internet policy field in Argentina, Mexico and Costa Rica. Although internet governance has been persistently in the national agenda of Brazil – particularly after the creation of the CGI in 1995, it was until very recently a relatively obscure topic in most national policy agendas in Latin America.  As such, debates were limited to specialized government agencies, a few academics and a handful of NGOs. Today, in the post-Snowden scenario internet governance debates reach the highest policy levels and are prominently covered by the general media. The NETmundial event is a case in point: not only was it organized by Brazil but it was attended by delegations from the overwhelming majority of Latin American countries, most of them headed by ministers or secretaries of state.

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The (ongoing) quest for Latin America’s role in Internet Governance

//Carolina Aguerre and Hernan Galperin of UDESA discuss the results of their research into Latin American internet governance mechanisms. Click here to read the full report.

Since the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in November 2012, policy experts and scholars have demonstrated a more focused interest in understanding regional variations in internet governance preferences and organizational models. Yet many of these efforts have failed to fully grasp the complexity of a region such as Latin America. Part of the problem lies in the lack of a strong supranational political institution such as the European Union. Latin America is a patchwork quilt of various political and trade agreements, none of which provide a coherent framework for collective action on critical internet governance issues.

Our research (link to the paper) suggests that countries in the region should not be characterized as “swing states (Maurer and Morgus, 2014),” for many have a long-standing record of formal and/or tacit support for the current multistakeholder governance model. The analysis looks at three dimensions of governance…

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