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Panic in Panama

Thursday, July 26, 2012

WHAT A media outcry against interference with freedom of expression has greeted a request by President Ricardo Martinelli, to order Internet providers to identify bloggers and users of social media, who anonymously slander the reputation of public figures.

WHY Martinelli has in recent months seen his approval rating plummet, following extensive coverage, in both traditional and new media, of a series of scandals, in which he is allegedly involved.

WHAT NEXT On one hand, Martinelli´s proposal is consistent with positions taken in some countries, to prevent abuse of the Internet, in cases involving not only political issues, but also prevention of crimes, including child abuse and money laundering. On the other hand, the timing of his request seems self-serving, such that there has been a negative media reaction, which is likely to make his position even worse. There remains a technical issue. Investigators can often identify anonymous web users, who post from home or office. But it is almost impossible to find a user, who sends messages from a public Wi-Fi service or an Internet café.

For more information, please contact  Esteban Alvarez, at [email protected]