Mexico considers regulating Twitter, raising freedom concerns

  • By
  • February 4, 2010

By Joseph Vavrus

Twitter users in Mexico City have angered authorities by tweeting the locations of roadside Breathalyzer checkpoints, and kidnappers and drug traffickers are using Facebook and MySpace to communicate. Federal lawmakers have responded by proposing a bill to restrict social networking sites and to create a police force to monitor them, GlobalPost reports.

The bill, which is still under development, would track down and punish Twitter users—"Los Twitteros"— who break the law or help others escape it. It is modeled after a controversial Spanish bill that gives judges the power to shut down websites that help people break laws, writer Michael Miller explains. "[The] bill reflects a growing fear in Mexico that kidnapping rings and drug cartels are using social networking sites like Twitter to do business."

One particular Twitter feed that points out police roadblocks in Mexico City has especially angered authorities. In other cases, drug cartels are suspected of using social networking sites to locate and kill family members of enemies.

A security expert quoted by GlobalPost says he supports the call for police to use social networks to gain data of their own, but he warns against trying to regulate open sources. "If we try to regulate them, we're just going to end up like China battling Google."

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.