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#Sopacriolla: The Tough Road to ISP Regulation in Peru

[Note: All links are in Spanish unless otherwise noted]

In a previous post, talking about internet freedom in Peru and the attempts to restrict it, we tangentially commented about the project known as #sopacriolla, an initiative by the Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism (MINCETUR in Spanish) purportedly to gather input for the construction of copyright and ISP (Internet Service Provider) standards. So far so good, except for the questions about how binding the final product of that process will be with respect to the actual bill.

Journalist Bruno Ortíz of Vida y Futuro addressed the issue and talked about it to Erick Iriarte, the attorney in charge of the initiative, who stated:

En tres meses, el Gobierno planea tener lista una propuesta legal que permita determinar si los operadores de telecomunicaciones son o no responsables de la piratería online. El Ministerio de Comercio Exterior y Turismo (Mincetur), con el apoyo del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID), ha iniciado el proceso de elaboración de una norma que determine los niveles de responsabilidad de los operadores de telecomunicaciones y los gestores de contenido (Google, Yahoo, etc.) por la difusión de piratería en Internet,[…] La idea de crear el texto a partir de una convocatoria pública de opiniones, detalló, es no tener un proyecto como el que se propuso en el Congreso de Estados Unidos (Ley SOPA, es decir Stop Online Piracy Act)

In three months, the government plans to have a legal proposal ready that will be able to determine whether or not telecommunication operators are responsible for online piracy. The Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism (MINCETUR), with the support of the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB), has begun the process of developing a standard that determines the levels of responsibility of telecom operators and content managers (Google, Yahoo, etc.) for the spread of Internet piracy, […] The idea of creating the text based on a public call for opinions, he explained, is to not have a project like the one proposed in the U.S. Congress (SOPA, i.e., Stop Online Piracy Act).


ISP, image from the blog Liberación Digital (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 CL)

However, a few days later, said web was out of service, including social media accounts created as a support. All this amid allegations, both in mass media and on the internet, that the initiative was in reality a pretext for wanting to implement a law in Peru like the North American law known as SOPA [en], with all the bad images that evokes. The scant coverage and difficult hour (8 a.m.) that accompanied the proposed schedule of workshops to gather public input also resulted in an online petition to MINCETUR asking for greater transparency in this process.

From his blog, Chillinfart casts doubts on the way in which MINCETUR handled this proposal:

seamos malpensados, esto pasa a un día de la primera charla sobre la regulación a los proveedores de internet que sugirió el MINCETUR en esa página. ¿Qué pensaban ocultar? […] ¿Con Qué autoridad moral un ministerio piensa hablar de propiedad intelectual cuando desoyó los reclamos al respecto en el TLC [tratado de libre comercio] con la Unión Europea antes de su firma? Y esto sumado a la censura que dio ese ministerio contra sus propias críticas al TPPA, vemos para donde camina el MINCETUR y con quienes piensa reunirse en esas charlas.

We should be suspicious, this happens one day after the first talks about the regulation of the internet providers that MINCETUR suggested on that page. What were they trying to hide? […] By what moral authority does a ministry talk about intellectual property when it rejected complaints about it in the FTA (Fair Trade Agreement) with the European Union before it was signed? Add this to the censorship by the Ministry of its own criticisms to the TPPA (Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement), and we see where MINCETUR is going and with whom they plan to meet in those talks.

Professor Eduardo Villanueva takes it a little further, trying to explain and show what is behind the relationship between the state and the telecom companies in the context of copyright:

En el caso de las industrias culturales, el problema principal es que varios estados han optado por tragarse una narrativa falaz sobre protección de los creadores intelectuales a cambio de garantizar modelos de negocios obsoletos. […] Sin embargo, hay una transacción de por medio. […] Efectivamente, las empresas de telecomunicaciones y los proveedores de contenidos pueden ser protegidas de distintas maneras a cambio de ser agentes privados de la vigilancia estatal.

In the case of cultural industries, the main problem is that many states have chosen to swallow a false narrative about protection of intellectual creators in exchange for guaranteeing obsolete business models. However, a transaction is involved. […] In fact, telecom companies and content providers can be protected in different ways in exchange for being private operators of state surveillance [en].

Miguel Morachimo wrote in Blawyer trying to clarify what this project seeks to introduce into Peruvian law with respect to ISPs under the framework of the FTA:

Lo que hay que hacer es incorporar un sistema que señale en qué casos los que provean servicios de Internet (como empresas de telecomunicaciones) o de Internet (como cualquier página web con contenido generado por usuarios) son responsables por las infracciones a los derechos de autor que comenten sus usuarios. Es decir, se trata regular mecanismos de notificación y bajada de contenidos (notice and takedown) similares a los que tienen la mayoría de páginas web. Estos mecanismos permiten a los titulares afectados solicitar que se retire el contenido de la página. En varios casos, si los propietarios de la página reciben estas solicitudes y no lo hacen serán considerados como responsables de la infracción.

What needs to be done is to incorporate a system that indicates in which cases internet service providers (as telecommunication companies) or the Internet (as any page with content generated by users) are responsible for copyright infringements committed by their users. That is, it means regulating notification mechanisms and withdrawing content (notice and takedown) similar to what most web pages have. These mechanisms allow those affected to request the removal of the page content. In some cases, if the page owners receive these requests and don’t honor them, they will be considered responsible for the infraction.

In the following video, we delve a little deeper with Miguel into the FTA and the issue of ISPs:

In the meantime, meetings started, or workshops were scheduled for November and December, in order to elicit opinions, suggestions or questions, both from institutions and concerned individuals. After the second workshop, the organizer, Attorney Erick Iriarte commented on Facebook about the concerns that were being collected:

desde el modelo de aplicacion, hasta temas derechos humanos, libertad de expresion, acceso a la cultura, privacidad, protecion de datos, debido proceso, sumado a integridad de la red, aumentado con temas de no monitoreo ni control previo. Hoy sumaron tambien los temas de en cual “capa” se actuara; costos de transaccion (quien los debe asumir), responsabilidad directa/indirecta/compartida.

From the application model, to issues of human rights, freedom of expression, access to culture, privacy, data protection, due process, coupled with network integrity, added to issues of no monitoring nor previous control. Today the issue also came up of which “layer” would operate; transaction costs (who will pay them), direct/indirect/shared liability.

In spite of these limits, some bloggers attended these workshops, mentioning among other things the small “quorum” they saw. For example, Miguel Morachimo wrote about his participation on Hiperderecho. Chillinfart posted his opinions on Chillinfart and on Facebook about the session he attended (audio here), in which he met with a representative from the telecom company Claro:

de hecho, la posición de Claro es de preocupación: Si esta regulación va si o si, estas deberían ir mediante una notificación judicial, sin otra vía administrativa. De otra manera, se permitirá el abuso de la misma contra el ISP, peor si la cosa no es previa sentencia (si no se hace mediante el poder judicial), pudiendo prestarse para chantajes a la americana.

In fact, Claro’s position is one of concern: If this regulation goes, one way or another, they should go through a subpoena, without other administrative proceedings. Otherwise, it will permit abuse against the ISP, worse if it’s not by previous order (if it’s not done through the judiciary), and may lend itself to American-style blackmail.

However, some objections to the consultation process itself have also been made via Facebook. For example, user Javier Hayashi makes the point, among others:

Quién decidió este tipo de consulta así de abierta e informal? Por qué? Piensa qué es la mejor manera de hacerlo? Cuál es el fin exacto de esta consulta? Recoger opiniones es importante, pero luego qué harán con ellas? […] Por el lado de gobernanza están muy mal y esto tiene la pinta de ser una simple fachada para decisiones que ya están (casi) tomadas. El mero hecho de que participe gente para darle un aire de legitimidad a lo que hace es peor que no llamarla.

Who decided on this type of open and informal consultation? Why? Do they think that’s the best way to do it? What’s the purpose exactly of this consultation? Collecting opinions is important, but what will they do with them later? […] From the government’s side, they are bad and this has the earmarks of being a mere façade for decisions already (almost) made. The mere fact that people have participated gives an air of legitimacy to what they do, it’s worse than not doing it at all.

To get first hand information with respect to the issue, we look to Erick Iriarte, and although at first he said that officially he could not comment about the commission entrusted to him by MINCETUR, we finally were able to talk about it:

It will be a few months until the final product for this issue is produced. Seeing the debate and positions taken on this, it’s doubtful everyone will be satisfied, but in spite of that, discussion and participation are necessary.

One can also hope for more interest than seen so far from the public and from companies who create web content. The issue can be complicated for many people, but the law that waits at the end of this will affect every Internet user in the country.

In closing, a quote from Iriarte himself in January of this year, in a discussion about copyrights, free Internet, and SOPA:

son los usuarios de a pie, los creadores diarios de contenidos (incluyendo sus status en facebook, o sus tweets, sus canciones, sus poemas, sus textos, sus posts, sus comentarios, toda forma de expresión humana) los que habrán de primar.

It’s the ordinary users, the daily content creators (including their Facebook status, or their tweets, their songs, poems, texts, posts, comments, all forms of human expression) who must come first.

Post originally published in Juan Arellano's personal blog.
Sonia Ordóñez subtitled the first video in this post, and Jeff Gotfredson subtitled the second video.

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