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Venezuela: New Law Bans Some Internet Content

(Dec. 30, 2010) On December 20, 2010, after less than a week of consideration and with the support of the ruling party, Venezuela's National Assembly adopted the Law on the Social Responsibility of Radio, Television, and Electronic Media (Ley de Responsabilidad Social en Radio, Televisión, y Medios Electrónicos [in Spanish], National Assembly website,
(last visited Dec. 22, 2010)). The Law, which expands to the Internet earlier regulation of print and broadcast media, bans content that promotes unrest or challenges existing authorities. According to a report published online by the legislature, the new law will guarantee freedom of expression and the spread of information that “contributes to the formation of a social conscience” of the population. (Maureen Cosgrove, Venezuela Passes Law Banning Certain Internet Content, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST (Dec. 21, 2010),
; María Isabel Dávila, Sancionada Reforma de la Ley de Responsabilidad en Radio, Televisión y Medios Electrónicos, National Assembly website (Dec. 20, 2010),

The Law will impose fines on media businesses that violate its provisions; repeat offenders may face the possibility of losing their media licenses. The political opposition argued that the Law will likely restrict freedom of speech and thus raises constitutional questions. (Cosgrove, supra.)

Venezuela had already been criticized for limits on freedom of expression even before the new Act was adopted. In the most recent U.S. State Department report on human rights in the country, Venezuelan law was said to have provisions on freedom of speech and of the press, but, the report went on to state, “the combination of laws and regulations governing libel and media content, as well as legal harassment and physical intimidation of both individuals and the media, resulted in practical limitations on these freedoms and a climate of self-censorship.” (2009 Human Rights Report: Venezuela,§ 2(a) (Mar. 11, 2010),