Turning the tide against online spying in Paraguay
On Thursday morning, the Paraguayan Senate defeated a mandatory data retention bill that would have compelled local ISPs to retain communications and location details of every user for a period of 12 months.
Paraguayan Internet users called the bill “Pyrawebs,” alluding to the digital version of pyragües, informers who monitored the civilian population's movements, meetings, political preferences, religious beliefs, and more on behalf of dictator Alfredo Stroessner, who ruled between 1954 and 1989.
The bill was introduced by the Senate in June 2014. The bill then went to the Chamber of Deputies. Following an amazing campaign against the bill by TEDIC and Amnesty Paraguay, the Chamber of Deputies rejected it unanimously earlier in March. The Senate's decision to also reject the bill will make a huge impact on the Paraguayan government's attempt to track the communications of millions of innocent Paraguayans only because they use mobile phones or other devices connected to the Internet.
This is extraordinary victory for privacy and an important first step in the right direction. The tweets and lobbying from Paraguayan Internet users have been invaluable in getting this far. Now, we need the help of all internet users in Paraguay to make today's victory stick.
We can all be proud today that there was no law enacted on our watch that would have compromised the online privacy rights of Internet users in the name of security.
We're thankful to groups such as TEDIC and Amnesty Paraguay for their intense and invaluable work on the ground to defeat the bill. We're also very thankful to the international community (specially to IFEX, Access and more than 65 organizations worldwide) who joined us on the fight in support of local groups. We know that whenever and wherever fundamental freedoms are threatened, they will dive once more unto the breach to fight fearlessly for our rights. Thank you!
While this particular fight is over, the supporters of the bill may try to sneak it in again in the future. We will all need to stay tuned and help to fight any such move. The supporters of mass surveillance will try again, but if we stay united our fundamental rights will remain intact.