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National Commission of Telecommunications

The National Commission of Telecommunications (Conatel) is an agency of the Government of Venezuela that exercises the regulation, supervision and control over telecommunications in Venezuela.

National Commission of Telecommunications
Comisión Nacional de Telecomunicaciones
Logo of Conatel.gif
Agency overview
FormedJune 12, 2000; 18 years ago (2000-06-12)
Preceding agency
  • National Telecommunications Commission
HeadquartersLas Mercedes, Caracas, Venezuela
Parent agencyMinistry of Popular Power for Communication and Information
Websitewww.conatel.gob.ve

Contents

HistoryEdit

The Telecommunications Act, enacted on June 12 2000, gave the Venezuelan state power to regulate the sector of the National Telecommunications Commission. This Commission was initially created by the # 1,826 Decree of September 5 of 1991 (Official Gazette No. 34.801 of 18 September 1991) attributing the character of autonomous service without legal personality, and the hierarchy of a Directorate General of the Ministry Transport and Communications, which replaced the National Telecommunications Council (CNT).

ControversiesEdit

 
A communication from General Director of CONATEL, William Castillo Bolle, giving the IP addresses and other information of Venezuelan Twitter users to SEBIN General Commissioner Gustavo González López.

CensorshipEdit

Reporters Without Borders warned of "rising censorship in Venezuela's Internet service, including several websites and social networks facing shutdowns". They condemned actions performed by the National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel) after Conatel restricted access to websites with the unofficial market rate and "demanded social networks, particularly Twitter, to filter images related to protests taking place in Venezuela against the government".[1] However, the Venezuelan government published a statement saying that they did not block Twitter or images on Twitter, and implied that it was a technical problem.[2] In November 2013 the Venezuelan telecommunications regulator, CONATEL, began ordering ISPs to block websites that provide the black market exchange rate. ISPs must comply within 24 hours or face sanctions, which could include the loss of their concessions. Within a month ISPs had restricted access to more than 100 URLs. The order is based on Venezuela's 2004 media law which makes it illegal to disseminate information that could sow panic among the general public.[3]

During the 2014 Venezuelan protests, Colombian news channel NTN24 was taken off the air by CONATEL for "promoting violence".[4]

SurveillanceEdit

In 2014, multiple Twitter users were arrested and faced prosecution due to the tweets they made.[5] Alfredo Romero, executive director of the Venezuelan Penal Forum (FPV), stated that the arrests of Twitter users in Venezuela was a measure to instill fear among those using social media that were critical against the government.[5] In October 2014, eight Venezuelans were arrested shortly after the death of PSUV official Robert Serra.[6] Though the eight Venezuelans were arrested in October 2014, the Venezuelan government had been monitoring them since June 2014 according to leaked documents, with the state telecommunications agency CONATEL providing IP addresses and other details to the Venezuelan intelligence agency SEBIN in order to arrest Twitter users.[6]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Reporters without Borders warn about Internet censorship in Venezuela". El Universal. 12 March 2014. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-07. Retrieved 2016-03-07.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Venezuela forces ISPs to police Internet", John Otis, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 12 December 2013.
  4. ^ "Señal del canal NTN24 fue sacada de la parrilla de cable" ("NTN24 channel signal was taken from the wire"), El Universal, 13 February 2014. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Venezuela: ya son siete los tuiteros detenidos por "opiniones inadecuadas"". Infobae. 1 November 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Netizen Report: Leaked Documents Reveal Egregious Abuse of Power by Venezuela in Twitter Arrests". Global Voices Online. 17 July 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2015.