Venezuela passes new law drastically limiting internet freedoms

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The Venezuelan parliament has passed a law that bans any internet content that "promotes social unrest, challenges authority or condones crime." President Hugo Chavez's ruling party pushed the law through in less than a week. Snip from AFP:

The new law expands 2004 restrictions on content in radio, television and print media. In an unprecedented move, it now also includes content from the Internet and electronic subscription services, making webpage managers "responsible for the information and content" published on their websites."

It is meant to crack down on media content that "makes an apology of crime," "promotes unrest in the population" or "challenges legally established authorities." Webpage managers must now "establish mechanisms to restrict, without delay, the diffusion of messages... that are included in the ban." The measure increases fines imposed on media violations to "10 percent of the previous year's gross income," in addition to "72 hours of continuous suspension of services."

Here's more about the law in Spanish on the government's website, including a video.

Coverage around the web: Reuters, AFP, Bloomberg, BBC News, CPG's condemnation.

Photograph: Venezuelan Hugo Chavez speaks during a meeting with United Socialist party members in Caracas, December 17, 2010. Last week, Venezuela's parliament gave President Chavez decree powers for 18 months, outraging opposition parties that accused him of turning South America's biggest oil producer into a dictatorship. The move consolidated the socialist leader's hold on power after nearly 12 years in office, and raised the prospect of a fresh wave of nationalizations as the former paratrooper seeks to entrench his self-styled "revolution." (REUTERS/Miraflores Palace)