[2013 Assessment] Privacy and surveillance in Ecuador

by Digital Rights LAC on January 28, 2014

Collage Privacidad

In Digital Rights LAC, we asked to different specialists in the region about their personal appraisal in digital rights issues. This is the case of Carlos Correa of Ecuador, to whom we asked what lessons for activism can be drawn from the Penal Code and the Article 474? Here is his answer.

In Ecuador, we ended 2013 with ambivalence in regards to digital rights activism and advocacy. The balance tips in favor of users when we talk about the Penal Code (#COIP), recently approved by the Legislative Assembly and yet to be sanctioned by the Executive. In early October, at the stage of a bill, the Article 474 disregarded the right to information privacy and the privacy of the citizen. Immediately, through spontaneous meetings of interested associations and around the hashtag #InternetLibre, it was suggested not only the modification of this article, but its elimination. Two months later, this was accomplished. I venture to list the conditions that were given for this achievement:
1. Getting out from the Internet bubble. While the web was the common place to meet, organize and develop, the challenge was to getting out from the easy e-activism and starting working closely with the decision makers: the Members of Parliament (PM).
2. Carrying the discussion agenda to ordinary citizens through the mass media. Inconsistencies of Article 474 were more evident when ordinary people began to talk among them about the dangers of implementing the law. This was a result of activists’ work with journalists and the specialized press that gave visibility to the problem.
3. Joining together. When alarm bells rang, associations, unions and interested groups made a single front, wearing the same shirt, using the same network to be better organized, but not separately. When the news of the removal of the article was learned, the credit was for all.
4. Being critics and also proactive. After being neatly documented, the tone of the discussions with MPs and their advisors passed from the complaint to the proposal.
5. Moving through activism. Finally, the minimum necessary and obvious: to move!
Now comes the stage to maintain consistency and make from this theoretical concept related to the “collective intelligence” something practical and tangible. 2014 awaits us.

Translated by, Amalia Toledo.