Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ecuador vs. Social Network Slander 16 OCT 2013

By on Wednesday, October 16, 2013

  In Ecuador, if you slander or libel another person, including a government official, you’re guilty unless and until you prove yourself innocent.

  President Rafael Correa won hundreds of thousands of dollars a few years back as a result of a lawsuit against Banco Pichincha. Last year, he also won against a Guayaquil newspaper, El Universo. ....

  ...Even those inside the country can post to social networks without ever being traced. They can set up a throwaway email address with false personal info at Gmail, Yahoo! Mail or, then create a false account at Facebook or Twitter based on that email address.Yes, it’s against the terms of service to do that. But Facebook has over one billion users; Twitter over 500 million. It’s unlikely that either one will ever notice a fake account until someone directs them to it. And then what? Track and hand over the IP addresses used to make the defamatory remarks? Not without a court order in the United States.
  • As further protection, anyone intent on defamation will use a proxy service to hide his/her IP address when posting to social networks. That adds another round of court orders in a country where Ecuador has no jurisdiction.
  • correa-article
The Only Option Left
If the video camera idea is a no-go, since they’ll only monitor a portion of the population, checking ISP logs is similarly impractical. The fact is that with so many methods available to hide one’s true identity, it is very difficult to catch and accuse anyone who doesn’t want to be caught.
So it will likely remain impossible, in Ecuador at least, to sue someone for slander on social networks hosted outside of the country.

What’s left? Censorship, à la China and even developed nations such as Australia.

 The only way the Ecuadorian government will ever be able to control slander on Twitter and Facebook will be to censor Twitter and Facebook. Restricting access to social networks would invite accusations of repression of freedom of speech that the Correa government may not be able to gloss over, but other nations have shown that it can be done.

 However, a far easier course of action would be to decriminalize defamation, and let the Ecuadorians, particularly their politicians, grow a thicker skin...

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