Freedom of Expression

Honduras: Take action to prevent new pathway to online censorship

 

En español aquí

Legislators of the National Party of Honduras (the ruling party) have introduced a bill that endangers freedom of expression on the internet. The final vote on the bill could be called at any moment.

In February, the ruling party in Honduras introduced a controversial bill aimed at combating hatred and discrimination online. Hiding under its good intentions are dangerous provisions that are at odds with basic standards of freedom of expression and due process. The bill is particularly concerning because it contains provisions that could allow the government to silence dissent online. This further complicates the delicate human rights situation in Honduras and is especially troubling in the aftermath of recent reports that the government acquired digital espionage technology.

The bill, as it was last released to the public, requires any service or website that includes user-generated content to process complaints and remove “hate speech” or discriminatory content within 24 hours. Should online intermediaries fail to do so, their services could be fined or blocked. The latest draft of the bill also creates a national cybersecurity committee to receive reports and relay them to websites and companies, and to develop policy strategies on issues ranging from cybercrime to hate speech and fake news. Last month, the bill was approved in a second debate without taking into account the concerns from civil society and the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Edison Lanza.

Rather than conduct a transparent, multistakeholder debate, the Honduran government has kept public information surrounding this bill to minimum. Many believe the upcoming vote will take place unnoticed, leading to the passing of the bill. That's why it is so important to spread the word about this threat to free expression. Use this tweet tool to urge legislators to reject this bill, and to tell the president of Honduras not to support it.

Image credit: Latin Correspondent

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