Freedom on the Net

Ecuador

Ecuador

Freedom on the Net 2013

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Key Developments: May 2012 – April 2013

  • The Organic Law on Communications—proposed during the coverage period and later approved—tasks website owners with “ultimate responsibility” for all content. This law, combined with government pressure, resulted in the removal of the reader comments sections from two prominent news sites (see Limits on Content).
  • A new telecommunications act issued in July 2012 established the right to privacy and security for ICT users, while also authorizing the National Telecommunications Council to track IP addresses without judicial order (see Violations of User Rights).
  • Reports of advanced surveillance technology in Ecuador were confirmed by Speech Technology Center, a Russian tech company, in December 2012. The company revealed that it had completed the installation of a biometric identification system capable of generating and storing both “voiceprints” and facial recognition data in Ecuador (see Violations of User Rights).
  • In August 2012, Ecuador extended diplomatic asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a decision that attracted worldwide attention in part because it appeared to contradict the administration’s attitude toward free speech and media freedom (see Violations of User Rights).

Editor's Note:

In June 2013, Ecuador’s Organic Law on Communications was passed. The law, which human rights organizations fear will stifle critical voices in the media, utilizes vague wording, arbitrary sanctions, and the threat of civil and criminal penalties in an effort to halt the spread of information that discredits public officials, even when such information is supported with evidence.[1] The law also provides for the creation of a new media regulator led by a presidential appointee to prohibit the dissemination of “unbalanced” information and bans non-degreed journalists from publishing, effectively outlawing investigative reporting and citizen journalism.

 

Introduction: 

Ecuador, which has historically lagged behind other Latin American nations in terms of technological growth, has witnessed substantial improvement in internet penetration over the past two years. Despite recent progress, however, Ecuador still faces challenges related to information and communication technology (ICT) development. These include: market penetration, especially in rural areas; high consumer costs; poor quality of ISP service; and high taxes on mobile phones, particularly those with internet access. While the government has begun a campaign to increase internet access across the country, opening a number of public internet access centers known as Infocentros in remote regions, to date there have been no measures predicated on improving quality of service or lowering access rates.

Although Ecuador’s ICT landscape is in need of further expansion and upgrade, its current capacity facilitates use of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and also supports a lively blogging community. Social media are used for conversations on a wide variety of topics, including daily news, sports, entertainment, personal interest, and politics. During the February 2013 elections for president and National Assembly, the internet provided a real-time forum for candidates to launch proposals, solicit votes, discuss issues, and increase the scope of their publicity campaigns.

While President Correa’s re-election has facilitated continued economic stability via social welfare programs and other initiatives, media freedom advocates are fearful that the proposed Organic Law on Communications will exacerbate the restrictions he has already placed on the press. Over the past few years, newspapers and other traditional media have had serious confrontations with the government often resulting in lawsuits filed against major media outlets at the behest of the president. Critics have expressed concern that President Correa’s new term will result in an expanded executive, a less independent judiciary, and continued attacks on the media and political opposition at the hands of the government.[2]

In August 2012, Ecuador extended diplomatic asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who had been staying at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since June and, as of May 2013, had not yet left the building for fear of arrest and extradition. Correa’s offer of asylum allows the Ecuadorian president to temper his administration’s history of media violations by portraying his government as a defender of free speech.[3]

Obstacles to Access: 

By the end of 2012, internet penetration in Ecuador had reached an all-time high of 35 percent,[4] although some sources within the country cite penetration rates as high as 55 percent.[5] This surge was largely the result of government efforts to increase connectivity nationwide in keeping with the November 2011 “Digital Strategy 2.0 Ecuador” plan, which set goals for increased internet access and enhanced technology that included the extension of internet connectivity to 50 percent of households by 2015.[6] Developments have largely been on track with projected deadlines, with Infocentros—community centers that offer free internet access and technological training—among the most successful initiatives.[7] Internet cafes are also becoming increasingly common, providing an alternative means of access for Ecuadorians, most of who use the internet for educational purposes, communication, and obtaining information.[8]

Three groups of fiber-optic cable run through Ecuador, offering connectivity to 23 of the country’s 24 provinces: (1) from the north through Colombia towards the Andean region, (2) from the coast in the province of Guayas, and (3) from the south through the province of El Oro.[9] Ecuador is home to 22 internet service providers (ISPs), most of which offer internet service via these points of connection without activation fees. Of Ecuador’s ISPs, ETAPA and GroupTvCable hold the greatest percentage of market share.[10] Under a provision prioritizing essential technology, computers, which range from approximately $800 to$1000, are tax-free when imported from other countries. As compared to an average wage of $318 per month, however, computers are not easily affordable.[11] For those fortunate enough to own computers, there are multiple subscription options, ranging from dial-up pay-per-minute plans to cable and radio modems and satellite connections.[12] Broadband (commonly used in urban zones) and satellite connections (often used in rural areas) have become increasingly popular in recent years, eclipsing dial-up plans.

According to industry estimates, between 33 and 66 percent of internet users have broadband speeds between 2 to 3Mbps, at a cost of $20 to $25 per month.[13] In May 2012, Superintendent of Telecommunications Fabian Brito indicated that the overall average speed of an internet connection in Ecuador is 128Kbps, although speeds are lower in rural areas. While the price of access is consistent in both rural and urban settings, representatives from the government’s office of telecommunications predict a significant decrease in subscription prices across the board along with an attendant increase in connection speed in coming years.[14]

In 2011, mobile penetration in Ecuador was measured at 47 percent, a significant increase from 2010 figures, which came in at 24 percent. Regional variations still persist, however, with the lowest number of subscribers, 30 percent, found in the Andean highlands of Bolivar, and the greatest number, 55 percent, found in the province of Pichincha, which counts Ecuador’s capital, Quito, among its cities. Mobile phone subscriptions vary greatly among income level, with 54 percent of those above the poverty line enjoying active subscriptions as compared to 28 percent of those below the poverty line. Of those with mobile phones, only 8 percent have smartphones, 36 percent of which are concentrated in the provinces of Guayas, El Oro, and Azuay. Those with post-graduate degrees are most likely to own smartphones.[15]

Ecuador is home to three mobile service providers: one state-run operator, CNT, and two private providers, Claro (CONECEL) and Movistar (OTECEL). The total number of active cellular accounts exceeds 14 million, distributed as follows: Claro leads the pack with 69 percent of subscribers, followed by Movistar with 29 percent, and finally, state-run CNT, with almost 2 percent of subscribers.[16] While some data packages include internet access, Movistar’s full navigation package imposes certain limitations on the applications subscribers may use.[17] Movistar states that it retains the right to restrict access to certain sites without prior warning, should the sites generate content that could “affect the proper functioning of its system.” Such vague language leaves the rationale behind the restriction of certain websites rather opaque, although it appears to be a policy related to security concerns rather than one driven by censorship.[18]

Despite their popularity, the Ecuadorian government classifies mobile phones as luxury items. In addition to being excluded from the tax exemption extended to computers, a June 2012 ruling (No. 67) issued by the Committee on Foreign Trade (COMEX)[19] also imposes quotas on the importation of mobile telephones.[20] According to the edict, the limitation is predicated on preventing further environmental degradation resulting from residual cell phone waste.

Social networks are not widely used in Ecuador. A national survey revealed that as of 2011, only 3 percent of Ecuadorians utilized such platforms, most of whom were concentrated in coastal, urban areas and held university degrees.[21] The Ecuadorian blogosphere has largely followed in the footsteps of conventional media, witnessing a slight decrease in the quantity of voices represented in recent years while still supporting discussion on a wide array of issues, including politics, sports, and daily news. Isolated communities in rural areas have less of a presence online due to connectivity issues, and therefore less representation in terms of advocating for matters such as water rights and indigenous land issues, leading to potential marginalization in online communities.

In recent years, the Ministry of Telecommunications (MINTEL) has initiated a handful of projects predicated on increasing digital literacy and general internet access. To that end, Infocentros have been installed in 377 (48 percent) of Ecuador’s 810 rural parishes, with a projection of 100 percent by 2014. [22] As mentioned above, Infocentros provide free access to computers, telephones, and the internet, and also offer ICT training.[23] During 2012, teams from the National Plan of Digital Recruitment (PLANADI) utilized Infocentros to train a reported 34,500 people to be technical managers.[24] To date, 445,000 visitors have accessed the internet from such centers in rural districts. The project appears to be meeting its goals of expanding demand for the internet to rural areas, as well as increasing the percentage of the population that enjoys digital literacy.

In rural areas, cybercafes, which generally provide internet access at a rate of $1 per hour, are often relied upon. Such establishments face the same requirements as other businesses, including registering with the government. In order to utilize the services provided by cybercafes, the national secretary of telecommunications, SENATEL, requires that users register with the following: full name, phone number, passport number, voting certificate number, email address, and home address. Users must also agree to terms that stipulate that all information entered into the database during use falls under the jurisdiction of SENATEL and the superintendent of telecommunications, SUPERTEL. If a user infringes on the terms and criminal charges are applicable to the transgression, the user will be prosecuted under Ecuador’s penal code.[25]

Ecuador’s backbone is not highly centralized. There have been no reported incidents of the government placing restrictions on applications from new companies in the ICT sector, however high registration costs and administrative hurdles can make it difficult to begin operating a new telecommunications business. New ISPs and mobile companies often face fees as high as $100,000 as well as legal obstacles, each of which can complicate their attempts to enter the market.[26] Private ISPs sometimes engage in bandwidth throttling (the intentional slowing down of internet service) to specific sites when excessive amounts of bandwidth are being consumed. It appears as though Ecuadorian ISPs utilize this strategy for traffic management rather than for censorship, however they are not transparent about such restrictions and there are likewise no laws to protect against preferential treatment of certain sites in times of high traffic.

Ecuador’s state regulatory agency is called the National Telecommunications Council (CONATEL).[27] It is part of the Telecommunications Ministry, the head of which is nominated by the president and also serves as the head of CONATEL, a process which demonstrates close alignment with the executive body.[28] In July 2012, CONATEL issued the Telecommunication Service Subscribers and Added Value Regulation Act.[29] Internet subscribers have taken issue with some of the act’s main provisions, namely: discretionary exemption relating to use of infrastructure against state security (Article 24.9) and the granting of authority to CONATEL to request users’ IP addresses without court order (Article 29.9).[30]

Limits on Content: 

There have been no widespread instances of blocking or filtering of websites or blogs in Ecuador, but there has often been restraint of political and government-related content both in print and, increasingly, online. Attempts to censor statements made in times of heightened political sensitivity have been witnessed, as have alleged instances of censorship via the overly broad application of copyright protection principles to content critical of the government. The population is able to access diverse sources of national and international information, however, anti-government commentary has been subject to governmental repercussions in recent years.

While access to blogs and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube is generally free and open in Ecuador, during the February 2013 presidential elections, the National Electoral Council (CNE) announced that it would begin making efforts to police social networks, though the mechanism by which such censorship would occur are unclear. This attempt led to online mobilization and protests by web users, which resulted in a guarantee from CNE not to regulate citizens’ personal expression or opinions on social networks.[31]

Another contentious case involves the trial of the Luluconto 10, a group of young social protestors suspected of planting pamphleteering bombs—mini explosions designed to distribute political pamphlets in crowded areas. Among the 10 activists who were arrested are a lawyer, a dentist, an engineer, a young mother, and a law student—all of whom were imprisoned on the day of their arrest and held without charges for four months. After they were finally brought to trial on terrorism charges, the group’s defense lawyers were banned from reporting on the case through social networks.[32] The order came on the heels of growing social mobilization advocating for a free and fair trial, much of which was carried out online, illustrating the impact of social media networks even in a country in which only a small minority of citizens have such accounts.[33]

The Ecuadorian government has periodically sought to block critical content on grounds of copyright infringement. A controversial 2012 documentary about President Correa was subject to such treatment when clips of the film were posted on YouTube and Vimeo. The videos were removed after Spanish anti-piracy firm Ares Rights filed a copyright infringement lawsuit on behalf of Ecuador’s state-run TV channel, claiming that the documentary included unauthorized images of the president.[34] Distribution of the documentary has been riddled with problems both within Ecuador and abroad ever since. After interviewing the filmmaker, Santiago Villa, on an Ecuadorian radio show, host Andres Carrion was forced to shut down his radio program.[35] When Villa attempted to broadcast the documentary on American TV channel American TeVe, he was asked to make changes to the film’s content, allegedly due to fears of legal reprisal. The documentary is now available only on the Russian website smotri.[36]

The Ecuadorian government has occasionally been accused of manipulating digital media via the use of progovernment commentators employed to counter opposition voices. In February 2012, Fernando Balda, a former member of President Correa’s socialist Alianza PAIS political party, blogged about government “troll centers” dedicated to defending the president and slandering the opposition on social media. Balda describes a digital “army” tasked with such work, which, he says, is comprised of workers with pseudonymous Facebook and Twitter accounts. Although Communications Secretary Fernando Alvarado refuted Balda’s claims,[37] reporters at El Comercio echoed such accusations in March 2012. Citing Balda’s statements as well as complaints made to the NGO Fundamedios, El Comercio claims that an investigation into tax records revealed that a number of accounts associated with inflammatory comments about journalists were in fact not registered to real people but appear to exist solely to slander journalists on social media platforms.[38] Over the years, reports have also surfaced of intense government pressure on media outlets to silence critical opinions during elections and at other times of heightened political interest.[39]

Although formal rules governing online activity have only been discussed in recent years, self-censorship has long been encouraged by the ramifications associated with the publication of critical comments. In January 2013, for example, President Correa (@MashiRafael) called for the National Secretary of Intelligence (SENAIN) to investigate two Twitter users who had published disparaging comments about him, an announcement which sent a warning to others not to post comments critical of the president.[40] In recent years, the Ecuadorian state has issued complaints and filed court proceedings against certain mainstream media outlets that maintain a digital presence via websites or social networks, including El Comercio and La Hora. Critics allege that reporters and journalists associated with the digital branches of these publications have exemplified a marked shift in tone, resorting to pro-government expression following state seizures of printing press equipment and supplies, as well as threats of legal action for online posts.[41]

After receiving criticism from the government, news site La Hora indefinitely suspended the reader comments section on its website. Such action was taken in order to avoid “publishing offensive comments” that might violate a clause in Ecuador’s proposed communications law (since approved) that imposes “ultimate responsibility” on publishers for any content that “threatens the honor or name of a good person”—a clause which extends to the reader commentary section of a newspaper’s website.[42] Despite La Hora’s efforts, one month later, the newspaper found itself at the center of a governmental dispute over content. The newspaper was forced by court order to publish an apology to the government, both on its website and in print, for having published a story based on data from an independent monitoring center that claimed the government had spent $71 million on propaganda.[43]

Print and digital news outlet El Comercio faced similar pressure related to its readers’ comments; like La Hora, the comments section was ultimately disabled, although in this instance the catalyst was a letter from President Correa. In July 2012, the president accused El Comercio of censoring progovernment commentary and allowing only inflammatory, anti-Correa rhetoric from commentators to be posted on its website. The newspaper subsequently apologized to Correa, stating that it was an “error [on the part of the newspaper] not to have filtered the offensive comments to the president.”[44] At the president’s request, the comments section has since been shut down completely.

In Ecuador, social networks have been utilized to coordinate meetings held in real life to organize, protest, or propose actions. To date, there have been no official governmental constraints on internet-mediated mobilization; however, the impact of such movements has been limited. Warnings from the president stating that the act of protesting will be interpreted as “an attempt to destabilize the government” have undoubtedly discouraged some from participating in protest movements.[45]

Violations of User Rights: 

Ecuador’s media freedom standards continue to be contradictory, balancing positive provisions such as universal access to ICTs with concerning developments relating to user privacy and manipulation of the press. While President Correa has had a hand in influencing some of the media via a direct line to reporters, he has also made a show of purportedly supporting free speech without condition, going so far as to grant diplomatic asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange much to the chagrin of some members of the international community.[46] The incongruity of the president’s strategy points to a dual desire to limit domestic media while simultaneously asserting a world image as a supporter of free speech. Ecuador’s new communications law, however, is poised to overshadow the nation’s foreign policy.

While the Organic Law on Communication does contain some positive provisions, such as recognizing the right to communication, it also contains numerous articles of concern for advocates of online expression. One rule greatly compromises user anonymity by forcing media companies to collect and store user information.[47] Another vaguely worded article prohibits “media lynching,” which appears to extend to any accusation of corruption or investigation of a public official—even those that are supported with evidence. Websites are also subject to “ultimate responsibility,” which makes them liable for all hosted content. A new body with oversight authority, to be appointed by the executive, has also been described in vague language, which may leave the door open to arbitrary actions against bloggers, journalists, and users of social media.[48]

Article 16.2 of Ecuador’s constitution guarantees “universal access to information technologies and communication.[49] Article 384 similarly confers the ability to exercise one’s right to communication, information, and freedom of expression. However, a discretionary loophole in Resolution TEL-477-16-CONATEL-2012 grants ISPs a wide margin for the implementation of “actions they deem necessary to the proper administration of the service network,” and by extension, threatens net neutrality. [50]

In July 2012, Ecuador’s Ministry of Telecommunications issued a resolution (The Telecommunication Service Subscribers and Added Value Regulation Act) establishing a framework for ICT user rights and ISPs. Among its provisions are articles stating that telecommunications is considered a “strategic sector” by the Ecuadorian government, and that the state is tasked with the “administration, regulation, control and management” of such technologies, while also being responsible for ensuring that the public has access to ICTs. Article 14 further establishes a state guarantee of privacy and security for users, prohibiting third party interception of communications.[51] Despite such positive provisions, however, Article 29.9 of the same act authorizes CONATEL to track IP addresses from ISP customers without judicial order.[52]

There are no specific laws criminalizing online content, however, standard defamation laws apply to content posted online, and are sometimes invoked by the government.[53] While lawsuits have been filed against digital news sites for comments critical of the current administration, detentions of regular ICT users are not as common. Calls for investigations into Twitter users who post content critical of the government, have, however, been levied by governmental authorities, including President Correa, a form of legal intimidation that stands to result in greater self-censorship online.[54] The only recent arrest related to internet activity concerned an activist who created a fake identity on the government site “Dato Seguro” and posed as the president, allegedly with the aim of revealing to the public that state information and systems are not sufficiently secure. Paul Moreno, the man responsible for illustrating the ease of breaching state digital security, was arrested in Riobamba in November 2012 under accusations of identity theft.[55] No details are available regarding the investigation of Moreno, however, his supporters were very active on social networks after he was detained (see, for example, tweets under the hashtag #LiberenAPaulCoyote), a factor that appears to have influenced the judiciary. Moreno was released four days after his arrest following his publication of a public letter of apology. [56] Although he was never brought to trial Moreno commented that during his detention, there were no acts of intimidation and due legal process was followed.[57]

Anonymous communication is not prohibited in Ecuador, nor are there restrictions against citizens who choose to maintain encrypted communications or use security tools. While the state guarantees privacy of communications, identification and registration are required to purchase a new cell phone, a regulation which has come into the spotlight following allegations of widespread secret state surveillance.

In December 2012, Russian tech company Speech Technology Center revealed that it had been contracted to provide Ecuador with a nationwide “biometric identification platform” capable of facial and voice recognition. The controversial database of “voiceprints” and facial features created by the country allegedly stores information only on known or suspected criminals or “persons of interest.”[58] Although the government claims not to listen to phone calls for “political purposes,” human rights advocates have cautioned that the technology holds the potential for abuse and could be used to track down political dissidents, advocates, or investigative journalists. [59]

Instances of verbal and physical harassment against journalists appear to be on the raise. In fact, verbal threats often come from the president, who uses his weekly sabatina (report) to insult journalists and others who have displeased him. The president, who has referred to journalists as “assassins with ink[60]” has also filed—and won—court proceedings against print journalists who have made critical comments about him or about presidential orders that resulted in the harming of civilians. In one landmark case from 2011, newspaper El Universal was charged $40 million in damages for publishing a critical article. Emilio Palacio, author of the column, and the directors of the newspaper were all sentenced to three years in prison. Palacio’s sentence was overturned in August 2012, but he and his family were already in the process of applying for political asylum in the United States which was granted the following month.[61]

Recent years have also been witness to two murders—one of a photojournalist, and one of an online reporter. In August 2012, Orlando Gomez Leon, a Quito based journalist from Colombia who writes for a Colombian weekly newspaper and also serves as an internal editor at print and digital newspaper La Hora, was the target of intimidation and violence. After contributing to an article discussing Ecuador’s free speech issues and its contradictory extension of asylum to WikiLeaks creator Julian Assange, Gomez began receiving threats. Later in the day, he was attacked by two assailants with a steel bar but managed to drive away unharmed. Given the nature of the threats he received, which included a warning to “stop saying bad things about Ecuador,” the attack appears to be connected directly to Gomez’s journalism.[62]

In April 2013, Fausto Valdivieso, a public relations consultant and journalist of nearly 30 years who wrote widely on social networks and reported for a small online TV station, was murdered after numerous threats and a previous attempt on his life a day earlier. Although a link to his journalistic work has not been proven, his murder occurred while he was investigating issues related to the government. Accordingly, his work has been suspected as one possible motive in the killing.[63] The suspects, currently in custody, are reputed to be members of a criminal drug-trafficking ring.[64]

Cyberattacks in Ecuador are generally sporadic rather than systematic, although they appear to be on the rise. These assaults include modifications to webpages (defacements), phishing, the spread of malware, and DDoS attacks. The websites of independent human rights organizations have occasionally been subject to disabling attacks and unexplained disruptions, and although their administrators suspect government involvement, no party has yet taken responsibility. In February 2013, the Twitter accounts of human rights organization Fundamedios (Andean Foundation for Media Observation and Study) and the online activism site Polificcion were suspended without explanation.[65] Following a press conference held by Fundamedios which detailed the dangers of arbitrary suspension, the organization’s Twitter account was reinstated in March, 2013.[66]

In January 2013, immediately following the publication of an article alleging that President Correa had two offshore bank accounts in Switzerland, website BananaLeaks.co was the target of disabling cyberattacks. Although administrators were able to get the site back up and running one day later, BananaLeaks says its site was “immediately sabotaged by the Ecuadorian government with DDoS attacks.”[67] Independent media outlets have not been the only targets of such attacks, however. In August 2012, “hacktivist” group Anonymous hacked into 45 websites belonging to the Ecuadorian government in protest of Article 29 of CONATEL’s July 2012 resolution allowing government agencies to request users’ IP addresses.[68] Operation #OpInternetSurkishka wreaked utter and widespread havoc on governmental websites for two days. [69]

Notes: 

 


[1] Gina Yauri, “Ecuador Passes Controversial Communications Law,” Global Voices Online, June 19, 2013, http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/06/19/ecuador-passes-controversial-communications-law/.

[2] William Neuman, “President Correa Handily WinsRe-Election in Ecuador,” The New York Times, February 17, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/18/world/americas/rafael-correa-wins-re-election-in-ecuador.html?_r=0.

[3] Irene Cassell, “Julian Assange will be Granted Asylum, Says Official,” The Guardian, August 14, 2012, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/aug/14/julian-assange-asylum-ecuador-wikileaks.

[4] International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Statistics: Percentage of Individuals Using the Internet, 2000-2012, ITU, June 17, 2013, http://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Documents/statistics/2013/Individuals_Internet_2000-2012.xls.

[5] Diario Hoy, “El Acceso a Internet en el País Sobrepaso el 54% de la Población durante 2012,” [Access to Internet in the Country Exceeded 54 Percent of the Population during 2012], Diario Hoy, January 1, 2013, http://www.hoy.com.ec/noticias-ecuador/el-acceso-a-internet-en-el-pais-sobrepaso-el-54-de-la-poblacion-durante-2012-570287.html.

[6] Roberta Prescott, “In New Digital Plan, Ecuador Aims for Internet Access to Half of all Households by 2015,” RCR Wireless, November 16, 2011, http://www.rcrwireless.com/americas/20111116/networks/in-new-digital-plan-ecuador-aims-for-internet-access-to-half-of-all-households-by-2015/.

[7] MINTEL, Infocentros, MINTEL, Republica del Ecuador, coverage through 2012, http://www.infocentros.gob.ec/infocentros/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=38&Itemid=56.

[8] Ecuador Travel Guide, Communications, accessed August 8, 2013, http://www.ecuador-travel-guide.org/services/Communications.htm.

[9] Roberta Prescott, “Ecuador Announces US $8.2M Investment in Fiber Optics, RCR Wireless, August 2, 2011, http://www.rcrwireless.com/americas/20110802/networks/ecuador-announces-us-8-2m-investment-in-fiber-optics/; Specific information regarding cables provided by interview with Carlos Correa Loyola, March 2013.

[10] El Tiempo, “Internet Aumentara Velocidad” [Internet Speed will Increase], May 17, 2012, http://www.eltiempo.com.ec/noticias-cuenca/96903-internet-aumentara-velocidad/.

[11] El Diario, “Correa Anuncia que el Sueldo Básico Aumenta a $318”[Correa Announces that the Base Salary is Increasing to $318], December 22, 2012, http://www.eldiario.ec/noticias-manabi-ecuador/250696-correa-anuncia-que-el-sueldo-basico-aumenta-a-318/.

[12] Tempest Telecom, Coverage Guide: Ecuador – Dialup Internet Access, accessed August 8, 2013, http://www.tempestcom.com/guide/guide.aspx?Id=60&view=1.

[14] El Tiempo, “Internet Aumentara Velocidad” [Internet Speed will Increase], May 17, 2012, http://www.eltiempo.com.ec/noticias-cuenca/96903-internet-aumentara-velocidad/.

[15] INEC, National Center for Statistics and Censuses, “Reporte Anual de Estadisticas sobre Tecnologias de la Information y Comunicaciones (TICs) 2011” [Annual Report of Statistics about Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) 2011], http://www.inec.gob.ec/sitio_tics/presentacion.pdf.

[16] SUPERTEL, “Operadoras Reportaron 17.133.539 Líneas Activas de Telefonía Móvil Prestadas a Través de Terminales de Usuario”[Operators Report 17,133,539 Active Mobile Telephone Lines Provided to Users], Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones, February 20, 2013, http://www.supertel.gob.ec/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1182%3Aoperadoras-reportaron-17133539-lineas-activas-de-telefonia-movil-prestadas-a-traves-de-terminales-de-usuario&catid=44%3Aprincipales&Itemid=344.

[17] Movistar, “Aplicaciones Restringidas - Plan Full Navegación” [Restricted Applications – “Full Navigation” Plan], Movistar Mobile Phone Company, http://movistar.com.ec/pdf/Aplicaciones_restringidas_IM_Full_Navegacion.pdf.

[18] Movistar, Aplicaciones Restringidas Plan Full Navegacion” [Restricted Applications in Full Navigation Plan], Movistar, accessed August 1, 2013, http://movistar.com.ec/pdf/Aplicaciones_restringidas_IM_Full_Navegacion.pdf.

[19] COMEX, “Resolución Nº67 del Comité de Comercio Exterior” [Legal Ruling # 67 of the Committee for External Business Relations], June 11, 2012, http://www.produccion.gob.ec/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2012/09/RESOLUCION-67.pdf

[20] La Hora Nacional, “Restricciones de Comercio Limitarán Acceso a Internet” [Trade Restrictions will Limit Access to the Internet], June 26, 2012, http://www.lahora.com.ec/index.php/noticias/show/1101351932#.UTONqahgbME.

[21] Carlos Correa Loyola, “Aprobacion de la Ley de Comunicación en Ecuador y su impacto en Internet” [Approval of the Communications Law in Ecuador and its Impact on the Internet], Bitacora de Calu (blog), June 17, 2013, http://calu.me/bitacora/2013/06/17/aprobacion-de-la-ley-de-comunicacion-en-ecuador-y-su-impacto-en-internet.html; See also: INEC, National Center for Statistics and Censuses, “Reporte Anual de Estadisticas sobre Tecnologias de la Information y Comunicaciones (TICs) 2011” [Annual Report of Statistics about Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) 2011], http://www.inec.gob.ec/sitio_tics/presentacion.pdf.

[22] MINTEL, Infocentros – Sobre, MINTEL, Republica del Ecuador, coverage extended through 2012, http://www.infocentros.gob.ec/infocentros/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=38&Itemid=56.

[23] MINTEL, Infocentros – Sobre, MINTEL, Republica del Ecuador, coverage extended through 2012, http://www.infocentros.gob.ec/infocentros/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=38&Itemid=56.

[24] Alvaro Layedra, MINTEL, reported via Twitter account @alayedra, Twitter, January 2013, https://twitter.com/alayedra.

[25] SENATEL, Registro de Cibercafes On Line [Registration of Cybercafes Online], Republica del Ecuador, accessed August 6, 2013, http://www.regulaciontelecomunicaciones.gob.ec/registro-de-cibercafes/.

[26] AEPROVI, general information available at: http://www.aeprovi.org.ec.

[27] El Universo, “Presidente del CNE: Hay que regular a las redes sociales y a eso vamos” [President of CNE: We have Regular Social Networks], El Universo, October 18, 2012, http://www.eluniverso.com/2012/10/18/1/1355/presidente-cne-hay-regular-redes-sociales-eso- vamos.html

[28] SENATEL, “CONATEL - Consejo Nacional de Telecominicaciones” [CONATEL – National Telecommunications Council], accessed August 5, 2013 http://www.regulaciontelecomunicaciones.gob.ec/conatel/.

[29] Carlos Correa Loyola, “Carta Impresa a Domingo Paredes, Presidente del CNE, sobre Intención de Regular las Redes Sociales” [Printed Letter to Domingo Paredes, President of CNE, about the Intention to Regulate Social Networks], Bitácora de Calú (blog), October 18, 2012, http://calu.me/bitacora/2012/10/18/carta-impresa-a- domingo-paredes-presidente-del-cne-sobre-intencion-de-regular-las-redes-sociales.html.

[30] El Comercio, “Jueces Ordenan que Juicio del Caso Luluncoto no se Transmita por Redes Sociales” [Judges Ordered that Case of Luluncoto is not to be Transmitted by Social Networks], January 23, 2013, http://www.elcomercio.com/seguridad/Jueces-ordenan-Luluncoto-transmita- sociales_0_852514906.html.

[31] Website of CONATEL (National Telecommunications Council), http://www.conatel.gob.ec/.

[32] CONATEL, “Resolución TEL-477-16-CONATEL-2012”, [Resolution TEL-477-16-CONATEL-2012], July 11, 2012, available here: http://www.regulaciontelecomunicaciones.gob.ec/.

[33] Manuela Picq, “Criminalizing Social Protests,” Al Jazeera, February 14, 2013, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/02/20132128651511241.html.

[34] Mike Masnick, “Spanish Anti-Piracy Firm Ares Rights History of Censorship by Copyright for Ecuador and Argentina,” Techdirt.com, June 28, 2013, http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130628/17335823665/spanish-anti-piracy-firm-ares-rights-appears-to-specialize-censorship-copyright-latin-american-countries-like-ecuador.shtml.

[35]Human Rights Ecuador, “Journalist Andres Carrion Forced to Leave Radio After Interview with Author of Correa Documentary,” Human Rights Ecuador, December 6, 2012, http://www.humanrightsecuador.org/2012/12/06/journalist-andres-carrion-forced-to-leave-the-radio-after-interview-to-author-of-correa-documentary/.

[36] Silvia Higuera, “YouTube, Vimeo Remove Documentary on Rafael Correa for Alleged Copyright Infringement,” Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, December 19, 2012, https://knightcenter.utexas.edu/blog/00-12416-youtube-vimeo-remove-documentary-rafael-correa-alleged-copyright-infringement.

[37] El Universo, “Dirigente de SP Revela Supuesto ‘Ejercito’ de Cuentas Falsa en Ecuador” [SP Reveals Alleged ‘Army’ of Fake Accounts in Ecuador], February 28, 2012, http://www.eluniverso.com/2012/02/28/1/1355/dirigente-sp-revela-supuesto-ejercito-cuentas-falsas-ecuador.html; Maca Lara-Dillon, “Inedito: Gobierno de Ecuador Habria Montado un ‘Troll Center’” [Unpublished: Government of Ecuador has Set Up a Troll Center], Pulso Social, March 1, 2012, http://pulsosocial.com/2012/03/01/inedito-gobierno-de-ecuador-habria-montado-un-troll-center/.

[38] El Comercio, “El Supuesto ‘Troll Center’ Tuvo en su Mora a El Comercio” [The Alleged ‘Troll Center’ Seen at El Comercio], El Comercio, January 3, 2012, http://www.elcomercio.com/politica/supuesto-troll-center-mira-COMERCIO_0_655734472.html.

[39] Milton Ramirez, “Ecuador: The Departure of a Television Anchor, Global Voices Online, April 25, 2009, http://globalvoicesonline.org/2009/04/25/ecuador-the-departure-of-a-television-anchor/; See also: Ecuador Sin Censura, http://ecuadorsincensura.blogspot.com/2009/04/cero-independencia.html.

[40] Ecuador Times, “Rafael Correa Asked the SENAIN to Investigate Twitter Accounts,” Ecuador Times, January 25, 2013, http://www.ecuadortimes.net/2013/01/25/rafael-correa-asked-the-senain-to-investigate-twitter-accounts/.

[41] The Telegraph, “Ecuador President Wins Libel Case Against Newspaper,” July 21, 2011, The Telegraph, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/southamerica/ecuador/8651676/Ecuador-president-wins-libel-case-against-newspaper.html.

[42] Silvia Higuera, “Government of Ecuador asks Paper to ‘Filter’ Reader Comments,” Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, January 30, 2013, https://knightcenter.utexas.edu/blog/00-12744-government-ecuador-asks-paper-“filter”-reader-comments.

[43] El Diario, “Diario La Hora Publica Sus Disculpaspara el Gobierno,” El Diario, November 14, 2012, http://www.eldiario.ec/noticias-manabi-ecuador/247818-diario-la-hora-publica-sus-disculpas-para-el-gobierno/; See also: Silvia Higuera, “Ecuadorian Newspaper Complies with Court Order, Apologizes to Government,” Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, November 16, 2012, https://knightcenter.utexas.edu/blog/00-12104-ecuadorian-newspaper-complies-court-order-apologizes-government.

[44] El Comercio, “Correa Da Su Version del Desfile Olimpico” [Correa Gives His Version of the Olympic Parade], July 28, 2012, http://www.elcomercio.ec/politica/Rafael-Correa-da-version-desfile-Olimpico-juegos-olimpicos_0_745125557.html.

[45] Carlos Andres Vera, “Protesta Tuitera: #El8ALasCalles” [Twitter Protest: #El8ALasCalles], Polificcion (blog), March 6, 2012, http://polificcion.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/protesta-tuitera-el8alascalles/.

[46] El Telégrafo, “Ecuador Concede Asilo Diplomático a Julian Assange” [Ecuador Grants Diplomatic Asylum to Julian Assange], August 16, 2012, http://www.telegrafo.com.ec/actualidad/item/ecuador-concede-asilo-diplomatico-a-julian-assange.html.

[47] Analia Levin, “Mechanisms of Censorship in Ecuador’s Communication Law,” Global Voices Online, July 22, 2013, http://advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org/2013/07/22/mechanisms-of-censorship-in-ecuadors-communications-law/.

[48] Alejandro Martinez, Ecuador’s Controversial Communications Law in 8 Points,” Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, June 20, 2013, https://knightcenter.utexas.edu/blog/00-14071-8-highlights-understand-ecuador’s-controversial-communications-law.

[49] MINTEL, “Autoridades del MINTEL se reunieron con usuarios digitales” [MINTEL Authorities Met with Digital Users], Ministerio de Telecomunicaciones y Sociedad de la Información, August 13, 2012, http://www.telecomunicaciones.gob.ec/autoridades-del-mintel-se-reunieron-con-usuarios-digitales-2/.

[50] See Article 15.6 of CONATEL’s Telecommunication Service Subscribers and Added Value Regulation Act: http://www.elcomercio.com/seguridad/Jueces-ordenan-Luluncoto-transmita- sociales_0_852514906.html.

[51] See Article 14 of CONATEL’s Telecommunication Service Subscribers and Added Value Regulation Act: http://www.elcomercio.com/seguridad/Jueces-ordenan-Luluncoto-transmita- sociales_0_852514906.html.

[52] Carlos Correa Loyola, “Carta Impresa a Domingo Paredes, Presidente del CNE, sobre Intención de Regular las Redes Sociales” [Printed Letter to Domingo Paredes, President of CNE, about the Intention to Regulate Social Networks], Bitácora de Calú (blog), October 18, 2012, http://bit.ly/18l0dBH.

[53] Asamblea Nacional de Ecuador, “Constitución del Ecuador” [Constitution of Ecuador], Asamblea Nacional de Ecuador, October 20, 2008, http://www.asambleanacional.gob.ec/documentos/constitucion_de_bolsillo.pdf.

[54] Ecuador Times, “Rafael Correa Asked the SENAIN to Investigate Twitter Accounts,” Ecuador Times, January 25, 2013, http://www.ecuadortimes.net/2013/01/25/rafael-correa-asked-the-senain-to-investigate-twitter-accounts/.

[55] Paul Moreno, Viajes [Travel] (Blog), http://paulcoyote.tumblr.com/; Paul Moreno, Twitter page, @paulcoyote; See also: Paul Moreno, “www.DatoSeguro.gob.ec No es Seguro” [www.DatoSeguro.gob.ec is Not Safe], Ecualug, November 26, 2012, http://www.ecualug.org/?q=20121126/blog/paulcoyote/wwwdatosegurogobec_no_es_seguro.

[56] DINARDAP , “Boletín de Prensa de DINARDAP” [DINDARP Press Bulletin], El Comercio, November 30, 2012, http://www.elcomercio.com/%20politica/Boletin-prensa-DINARDAP_ECMFIL20121130_0003.pdf; El Universo, “Bloguero Detenido por Usar Datos del Presidente Correa en Sistema Dato Seguro” [Blogger Detained for Using Data of Presiden in System Data Insurance], El Universo, November 30, 2012, http://m.eluniverso.com/2012/11/30/1/1355/detiene-tuitero-advirtio-posibles-fallas-sistema-dato-seguro.html.

[57] Paul Moreno, Letter Detailing Arrest and Detention, Calu (blog), December 1, 2012, http://calu.me/sandbox/cartapaul.jpg.

[58] Ryan Gallagher, “Ecuador Implements ‘World’s First’ Countrywide Facial- and Voice-Recognition System,” Slate, December 12, 2012, http://slate.me/T9E6WV.

[59] Rosie Gray and Adrian Carrasquillo, “Ecuador Defends Domestic Surveillance,” Buzzfeed, June 27, 2013, http://www.buzzfeed.com/rosiegray/ecuador-defends-domestic-surveillance.

[60] Summer Harlow, “Ecuador President Blasts New Media during Speech at Columba University in New York,” Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, Septemeber 28, 2011, https://knightcenter.utexas.edu/blog/ecuador-president-blasts-news-media-during-speech-columbia-university-new-york.

[61] Human Rights Ecuador, “Caso El Universal,” accessed August 7, 2013, http://www.humanrightsecuador.org/casos-destacados/caso-el-universo/?lang=es See also: Emilio Palacio, “Mi Vida en 830 Palabras,” Emilio Palacio en Internet (blog), September 2011-August 2012, https://sites.google.com/site/emiliopalacioeninternet2/home/trayectoria-de-Emilio-Palacio.

[62] Reporters Without Borders, “Colombian Journalist Threatened, Attacked with Steel Bar,” Reporters Without Borders, August 22, 2012, http://en.rsf.org/ecuador-colombian-journalist-threatened-22-08-2012,43257.html.

[63] For more on Valdivieso’s writings, see: YouTube, Patuchobalcon, last updated August 2011, http://www.youtube.com/user/patuchobalcon.

[64] Diario Extra, “Fausto Valdiviezo ‘Conocia’ a Sus Presuntos Asesinos” [Fausto Valdiviezo ‘Knew’ his Alleged Murderers], Diario Extra, June 3, 2013, http://www.diario-extra.com/ediciones/2013/06/03/cronica/fausto-valdiviezo-conocia-a-sus-presuntos-asesinos/; See also: Reporters Without Borders, “Journalist Slain in Guayaquil, a Day after Escaping Earlier Murder Attempt,” Reporters Without Borders, April 12, 2013, http://en.rsf.org/ecuador-journalist-slain-in-guayaquil-a-12-04-2013,44372.html.

[65] La República, “Correa Pide a Inteligencia que Investigue a Dos Tuiteros” [Correa Calls on Intelligence to Investigate Two Tweeters], La República, January 24, 2012, www.larepublica.ec/blog/politica/2013/01/24/correa-pide-a-la-senain-que-investigue-a-dos-tuiteros/; See also: Carlos Andres Vera, “Sobre la Suspensión de mi Cuenta Twitter”, [About the Suspension of my Twitter Account], PoliFiccion (blog), March 4, 2013, http://polificcion.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/sobre-la-suspension-de-mi-cuenta-twitter/.

[66] Fundamedios, “Twitter Suspende Cuenta de Organización Ecuatoriana” [Twitter Suspends Account of Ecuadorian Organization], IFEX, February 26, 2012, http://www.ifex.org/ecuador/2013/02/26/fundamedios_cuenta_twitter/es/.

[67] Fundamedios, “Website Hacked by Ecuadorian Government After Story on President,” Fundamedios/IFEX, February 14, 2013, http://www.ifex.org/ecuador/2013/02/14/bananaleaks_sabotage/.

[68] Europa Press, “Anonymous Hackea 45 ‘Webs’ de Gobierno Ecuatoriano” [Anonymous Hack ‘45’ Webs of the Ecuadorian Government] Europa Press, August 11, 2012, http://www.europapress.es/latam/ecuador/noticia-ecuador-anonymous-hackea-45-webs-gobierno-ecuatoriano-20120811063017.html.

[69] Storify, “#OpInternetSurkishka en Ecuador” [#OpInternetSurkishka in Ecuador], Digital Users of Storify EC, August 2012, http://storify.com/ecuadorinternet/opinternetsurkishka.

 

2013 Scores

Freedom on the Net Status

Partly Free

Freedom on the Net Total
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

37

Obstacles to Access
(0 = best, 25 = worst)

10

Limits on Content
(0 = best, 35 = worst)

11

Violations of User Rights
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

16