Latin America lacks legislation protecting online freedom of expression, book says

"Toward a Censorship-Free Internet ("Hacia una internet libre de censura" in Spanish) is an online book available via free download that analyzes legislation in Latin America addressing freedom of expression and Internet censorship.

Eduardo Bertoni, director of the Center for Studies on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information at Palermo University, compiled the book, which addresses four key issues: the liability of Internet intermediaries, how to handle private data, content filtering, and jurisdiction applicable to freedom of expression.

Bertoni told the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas that Latin America still needs a lot of regulation, making it difficult to determine whether governments apply with equal rigor the same laws protecting freedom of speech and press in the traditional media as they do in digital media.

For example, "there are still no statistics to determine how effective the governments in Latin America have been in punishing cyber attacks against news sites and journalists' social networking accounts,” Bertoni said.

In his opinion, all countries in the region could create multilateral or local regulations to protect content published online without Internet censorship, but thus far, no country has made progress in this type of legislation.

Such legislation should guarantee freedom of expression on the Internet and social networks, especially in countries like Mexico, where the murder of a journalist for her anonymous online reporting against organized crime took place last year, said Bertoni. "The exercise of freedom of expression through the use of new technologies also has its risks in certain countries," he said.

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