Cybersecurity bill raises concerns among Panamanian journalists

The Information Safety bill that is currently being considered by Panama’s National Assembly could represent a threat to freedom of expression in that country, according to several journalists’ unions and associations, the newspaper La Estrella reported.

The portion of the bill that seeks to modify some of the country’s penal code is the main target of the criticisms, La Estrella said. The changes would punish those who penetrate the State’s information security systems or gain access to classified information, and reproduce it in any way, with four to six years in prison. Passage of the bill into law would mean “criminalizing the practice of journalism,” said Guido Rodríguez, former president of the Panamanian Journalists’ Forum.

Freedom of expression in Panama was also a topic of discussion in the country on Aug. 31 when the two journalism associations from Costa Rica and El Salvador expressed their concerns regarding the way their reporters are being treated in their countries, the news website El Informe said.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.