NGOs call Peruvian president not to sign new information crimes law

The Information Crimes Law, also being called "Beingolea Law" after Congressman Alberto Beingolea or "Frankenstein anti internet law" by some of its opponents, was approved almost by unanimity on Peru's Congress on Sep. 12 amid concerns over its possible effects on online privacy and freedom of expression.

The law creates sanctions for online crimes such as unlawfully obtaining personal data, publishing personal data online without authorization and possessing and distributing child pornography. These crimes would be punished with up to six years in prison, Infobae reported.

Miguel Morachimo, director of non-profit Hiperderecho, said the law contains deep and structural errors since the text was modified during a recess from the congressional voting session and the additions -- like sanctions to discriminatory opinions over the internet -- were not questioned or discussed. Hiperderecho said that there hasn't been a "participative or informed debate" over the new content and called Humala to return the bill to Congress for further discussion.

Meanwhile, Internet civil rights advocacy group Access said the law will put an end to anonymity online, force companies to comply with government requests for users' personal information and threaten users with prison terms for their online activity.

The bill's author, Juan Carlos Eguren, said the Information Crimes Law doesn't threaten citizens' privacy or puts freedom of information online at risk and added that the law seeks to prevent the risks to which internet users are exposed to, Peru.com reported.

Several Latin American organizations wrote a letter to the Peruvian Congress, calling them to be careful when incorporating the new classification for information crimes to the penal code, which could end up negatively affecting citizens' right to due process, privacy and freedom of expression.

In the letter the organizations also underscored Peru's ratification of the United Nations Human Rights Council's Resolution 20/8, regarding the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the internet, which emphasizes the right to freedom of expression and opinion, both online and offline.

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.