(Mérida 04/11/2019) – During the days 30 and 31 October was held in Mérida the workshop «Des-bloqueo de internet. Evidencias y estrategias para sortear la censura digital», organized by the Instituto Prensa y Sociedad de Venezuela (IPYS Venezuela) in alliance with the Observatory of Human Rights of The University of Los Andes (ODH-ULA) and the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI).
More than 25 participants, including journalists, human rights defenders and students of Social Communication, were trained in this workshop, the content of which was given by representatives of IPYS Venezuela, the Mérida correspondent of the digital media El Pitazo and the coordinator of Redes Ayuda, an NGO that defends human rights in the Internet era.
As part of the same activity, during the afternoon of Thursday, October 31st, a discussion was held on the «Situation of the Internet in Venezuela. Restrictions on access and digital censorship», with the participation of Alejandra Stolk, specialist in computer security, network management and firewall administration, who currently directs the area of Networks and Connectivity of the Department of Telecommunications and Services of the University of the Andes (DTES-ULA, by its acronym in Spanish).
Censorship and digital blockades: violation of human rights
Mariengracia Chirinos, Director of Information Liberties and Digital Rights at IPYS Venezuela, and Daniela Alvarado, Digital Rights Coordinator at the same organization, explained to attendees why access to the Internet without limitations, censorship or blockages is a human right, recognized as such since 2011 by the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN).
Through studies carried out in the area by IPYS Venezuela, Chirinos and Alvarado showed statistics on digital censorship in Venezuela. Using the ONNI Probe mobile application, this organization has made measurements throughout the country to identify blockages committed against different websites. The ODH-ULA webpage has been the target of such attacks on at least four occasions.
Chirinos indicated that during this year IPYS Venezuela has identified 881 blockades to websites in Venezuela, with the El Pitazo webpage being the most blocked. María Fernanda Rodríguez, correspondent in Mérida for this digital media, explained the online and offline strategies used there to circumvent censorship, based on a closer approach to audiences.
Strategies and tools to circumvent censorship
Luis Serrano, a computer engineer and coordinator of Redes Ayuda, gave the participants of the workshop basic knowledge about digital applications to circumvent Internet censorship, as well as technical criteria, strategies and basic digital security tools for journalists and human rights defenders.
Finally, Alejandra Stolk presented during the conversation an account of the history of telecommunications in Venezuela, whose quality and geographical scope became the best in Latin America in the 1980s. Today the state of telecommunications in the country is in the worst places in the region and even worldwide, with a lower internet connection speed than this service has in Haiti.
The participation of ODH-ULA as an allied organization in the realization of these activities adds to its duty to demand that the Venezuelan State be the guarantor of the fulfillment of all the human rights of its governed, including the right of access to the Internet.