REEDOM ON THE
demonstrated no malicious intent.
In the midst of such controversy, the prosecutor’s office
subsequently dropped the charges and the two were released.
During the same month, several state congresses made changes to laws pertaining to “public order
In Veracruz, the approval of Ley de Perturbación (“The Disturbance Act”) has
criminalized the spreading of false alarms via mobile phones or social media such that the offense
may now carry criminal charges ranging from prison terms of six months to four years and fines
equivalent to 1,000 days of wages.
Although local attorneys raised concerns that such provisions
could be used to unnecessarily restrict freedom of expression, as of May 2013, there were no
known instances of such an occurrence.
In late 2012 and early 2013, several state governments either planned or initiated legal proceedings
against journalists and bloggers who had written critical statements about state officials. In one case,
a list was leaked to the press of journalists that were likely to be sued by the governor of Puebla; in
another instance, several online journalists were arrested for defamation. The first instance
occurred in October 2012, when a document was publicized naming nineteen journalists and
bloggers that Governor Moreno Valle’s administration planned to sue. Of the nineteen named
reporters allegedly guilty of “engaging in an excess of freedom of expression” which resulted in
“moral damage” to government officials, seven were online writers.
In April 2013, Martin Ruiz Rodriguez, editor of digital newspaper e-consulta, was arrested by police
in Tlaxaca, Mexico’s smallest state, and one of 13 that penalizes defamation.
The order for arrest
came at the behest of Ubaldo Velasco, the chief clerk of Tlaxcala, who Ruiz had called mediocre in
a handful of posts on his controversial political blog.
Ruiz is one of five contributors to e-consulta
charged with defamation, a crime punishable in Tlaxcala with fines and up to two years in prison.
Local media reported that the pair was subject to psychological pressure to plead guilty. According to Amnesty International,
they were also denied access to a lawyer for 60 hours. See: Javier Duarte Ochoa, “Personas en Riesgo de Prision en Mexico tras
Publicaciones en Twitter y Facebook” [People at Risk of Prison in Mexico after Publications on Twitter and Facebook], Amnesty
International, August 31, 2011, http://amnistia.org.mx/nuevo/2011/09/01/personas‐en‐riesgo‐de‐prision‐en‐mexico‐tras‐
Reporters Without Borders, “After Wasted Month in Prison, Two Social Network Users Freed, Charges Dropped,” September
22, 2011, http://en.rsf.org/mexico‐two‐social‐network‐users‐held‐on‐02‐09‐2011,40907.html.
H. Congreso del Estado de Tabasco, “Constitución de la Estado de Tobasco” [Constitution of the State of Tabasco],
http://www.congresotabasco.gob.mx/60legislatura/trabajo_legislativo/pdfs/decretos/Decreto%20125.pdf; See also: Leobardo
Perez Marin, “Aprueban Ley Contra ‘Rumor’; Coartara Libertades” [Law Approved Against ‘Rumor’; Freedoms Abridged],
Tabasco Hoy, August 31, 2011, http://www.tabascohoy.com/noticia.php?id_nota=220149 (account suspended).
Alvaro Delgado, “Gobernador de Puebla Presenta Doe de 19 Demandas contra Periodistas” [Governor of Puebla Presents Two
of Nineteen Lawsuits against Journalists,” Proces, October 23, 2013, http://www.proceso.com.mx/?p=323287.
Sin Embargo, “Atentados a la Libertad de Expresión Aumentaron 46% con EPN: Artículo 19; Registra 32 Agresiones a
Periodistas” [Attacks on Freedom of Expression Increased 46% with EPN: Article 19; Recorded 32 Attacks on Journalists], July 1,
2013, http://www.sinembargo.mx/01‐07‐2013/672263; Article 19, “Segundo Informe Trimestral: Reprimir la Protesta [Second
Quarterly Report: Suppress the Protest], Article 19, May 2013, http://articulo19.org/segundo‐informe‐trimestral‐reprimir‐la‐
Elvia Cruz, “Un Periodista de Tlaxcala va a Juicio por Llamar a un Oficial 'Mediocre'” [A Journalist from Tlaxcala goes on Trial
for Calling an Officer ‘Mediocre'], CNN Mexico, April 11, 2013, http://mexico.cnn.com/nacional/2013/04/11/un‐periodista‐de‐
tlaxcala‐va‐a‐juicio‐por‐llamar‐a‐un‐oficial‐mediocre; SDP Noticias, “Detienen a Martín Ruiz, Director de Portal e‐consulta
Tlaxcala por “Difamación contra Funcionarios” [ Arrest of Martin Ruiq, Director of e‐consulta Tlaxcala, for “Defamation against
Officials”], April 7, 2013, http://www.sdpnoticias.com/estados/2013/04/07/detienen‐a‐martin‐ruiz‐director‐de‐portal‐e‐
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REEDOM ON THE
Although he was released hours after being detained, Ruiz will stand trial for the charges leveled
against him, which include emotional and psychological damage, at a future date.
Four other journalists and managers of e-consulta have also been charged with defamation by state
cabinet officials in Tlaxcala: Ruiz’ brother, Rodolfo, Roberto Nava Briones, Gerardo Santillan, and
Arturo Tecuatl. As of May 2013, it was unclear whether criminal proceedings would be upheld or
whether the charges would be dropped.
A few days after Ruiz’ arrest, Aurora Aguilar Rodriguez,
deputy general of the National Action Party (PAN), publicly denounced the efforts of the Tlaxcala
state government to censor criticism by filing criminal charges against journalists. It remains to be
seen whether Aguilar’s comments will influence the state government.
This is not the first time that contributors to e-consulta have been harassed. In October 2012,
Gerardo Rojas and Jesse Brena, journalists with the digital newspaper were kidnapped by state
police in Puebla and held captive in the trunk of a police car for three hours. After taking all of their
personal belongings, including the cash they carried, they were abandoned in an empty lot in
Although such intimidation was presumably meant to inspire fear in e-consulta
reporters, the digital news outlet continued operations unabated.
Apart from a 2008 requirement that cell phone users register with the government (revoked in
2012) there are no official provisions regarding anonymity. The only regulation currently in
practice is unofficial and pertains to the safety of informants writing online about drug cartel
activity. Moderators of forums disseminating user-generated safety updates on local websites urge
writers to publish their comments anonymously in order to ensure their safety.
Despite a constitutional requirement that any interception of personal communications be
accompanied by a judicial warrant—a well as the 2010 passage of a law expanding the oversight
powers of the data protection authority
—reports published in 2012 allege that secret surveillance
of private citizens is widespread in Mexico.
In July 2012, evidence was leaked (and later
“Pidió Oficial Mayor de Tlaxcala detención de Director de e‐Consulta” [Mayor of Tlaxcala Called for Detention of Director of e‐
Consulta], e‐consulta, April 7, 2013, http://archivo.e‐consulta.com/2013/index.php/2012‐06‐13‐18‐40‐00/politica/item/pidio‐
oficial‐mayor‐de‐tlaxcala‐detencion‐de‐director‐de‐e‐consulta; Juana Osorno Xochipa, “Liberan a Periodista Detenido por PGJE
de Tlaxcala” [Free Journalist Arrested for PGJE in Tlaxcala], April 7, 2013, http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/notas/915260.html;
“Daily Digest: Mexican State Blocks Access to Police, Court Information,” Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, April 12,
Article 19, “Alerta: Oficial Mayor Intenta Meter a la Carcel a Periodista por Difamacion” [Alert: Mayor Tries to Send Journalist
to Jail for Defamation], April 8, 2013, http://articulo19.org/mexico‐criminalizacion‐al‐director‐de‐periodico‐digital‐e‐consulta‐
Gerardo Santillan, “Pide PAN en San Lazaro Cesse Persecucion a la Prense en Tlaxcala” [In San Lazaro, PAN Asks for
Persecution of the Press to Cease in Tlaxcala] e‐consulta, April 11, 2013, http://archivo.e‐consulta.com/2013/index.php/2012‐
Víctor Gutiérrez, “Dos Reporteros, Víctimas de Policías Delincuentes” [Two Reporters, Victims of Police Offense], El Sol de
Puebla, October 22, 2012, http://www.oem.com.mx/elsoldepuebla/notas/n2742106.htm.
Jeremy Mittman, “Mexico Passes Sweeping New Law on Data Protection,” Proskauer Rose LLP, May 11, 2010,
Bob Brewin, “State Department to Provide Mexican Security Agency with Surveillance Apparatus,” NextGov, April 30, 2012,
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REEDOM ON THE
confirmed by the Mexican army
) pertaining to the secret purchase of approximately $4.6 billion
pesos ($355 million) of “spyware” engineered to intercept online and mobile phone
communications. Such technology, which has been funded in large part by the U.S. State
Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, facilitates the real-
time geolocation of callers, the storage of up to 25,000 hours of conversation, and the real-time
monitoring of packet data.
In addition to recording conversations and gathering text messages,
email, internet navigation history, contact lists, and background sound, the surveillance software is
also capable of activating the microphone on a user’s cell phone in order to eavesdrop on the
The website of the Mexican Access to Information agency (IFAI) makes no mention of this
expenditure — or of the U.S. State Department’s alleged assistance in the tripling of Mexico’s
In March 2012, the Geolocalization Law, which allows the government
“warrantless access to real time user location data,” was passed nearly unanimously with 315 votes
in favor, 6 opposed, and 7 abstentions.
Such opacity, which renders Mexicans unaware of the
extent to which they are being surveilled and unable to contribute to discussions concerning the
legality of using such technology on private citizens, is deeply concerning. Critics of the law warn
that it is unconstitutional and sets a worrisome precedent of warrantless surveillance.
and weak rule of law among state governments—including the infiltration of law enforcement
agencies by organized crime—also leave room for abuse should private communications fall into
the wrong hands.
Mexico continues to be one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, who are
subject to violence (often from drug cartels) for investigating a range of issues, notably those
involving the drug trade, from trafficking to corruption. This phenomenon has been exacerbated by
widespread impunity for those carrying out such attacks.
While such violence has historically been
targeted at traditional, rather than online media, in 2011, bloggers and journalists posting
information about sensitive topics online became victims of cartel-related violence for the first
time, a worrisome trend that has continued to plague online writers.
Although online writers have attempted to protect themselves, they continued to be the target of
intimidation and violence in 2012 and 2013. In September 2012, Ruy Salgado aka “El 5anto”
Ryan Gallagher, “Mexico Turns to Surveillance Technology to Fight Drug War,” Slate, August 3, 2012,
Robert Beckhusen, “U.S. Looks to Re‐Up its Mexican Surveillance System,” Wired, May 1, 2013,
Katitza Rodriguez, “Mexicans Need Transparency on Secret Surveillance,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, July 24, 2012,
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/07/mexicans‐need‐transparency‐secret‐surveillance‐contracts; Cryptome, U.S.
Department of State Contract 58, Communications Intercept System Mexico, http://cryptome.org/2012/06/us‐mx‐spy.pdf.
Robert Beckhusen, “U.S. Looks to Re‐Up its Mexican Surveillance System,” Wired, May 1, 2013, http;Katitza Rodriguez,
“Mexicans Need Transparency on Secret Surveillance,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, July 24, 2012.
Katitza Rodriguez, “Mexico Adopts Alarming Surveillance Legislation,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, March 2, 2012,
Cyrus Farivar, “Mexican ‘Geolocalization Law’ Draws Ire of Privacy Activists,” ArsTechnica, April 24, 2012,
Committee to Protect Journalists, “28 Journalists Killed in Mexico since 1992/Motive Confirmed,” accessed January 12, 2013,
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REEDOM ON THE
(@5anto), a prominent blogger reporting on corruption and electoral fraud, went missing.
two days later, Salgado resurfaced to announce that despite multiple death threats, he was alive. In
a video post, Salgado explained that he had been subject to a forced disappearance, the details of
which he was afraid to reveal. Citing fear for the safety of his family, Salgado announced that he
would no longer be writing, but urged others to be brave—and careful—in their reporting.
Although widely reported in international media, conflicting reports have emerged about a
February 2013 campaign by an organized crime group to identify the administrator of Valor por
Tamaulipas, a site issuing reports on security risks in the cartel-dominated state. Although the crime
group allegedly offered a reward of 600,000 pesos ($47,000) for information leading to the
identification of the site’s owner or his family,
residents of the area say they never saw flyers with
such an offer.
Following reports of additional threats in April 2013, the site announced the
shutdown of both its Twitter and Facebook accounts.
As of May, 2013, however, the Facebook
and Twitter pages associated with Valor por Tamaulipas —which have nearly 215,0000 likes and
33,800 followers, respectively—were back up and running. Conflicting reports alternately claim
that the sites are clones or that the administrator changed his mind about closing the sites.
In February 2013, death threats were issued against members of an informal network of Twitter
users sharing information about drug violence in Mante, Tamaulipas under the hashtag
#vigilantesmante. The threats, which were transmitted from accounts using the name #ManteZeta
(the Zeta cartel is active in the area) via YouTube and Twitter, linked to a video depicting the
murder of three people. Accompanying the link to the video, which was originally published by
Blog del Narco, a site reporting on cartel-related violence, were threats stating that the same fate
would befall those tweeting about security risks in Tamaulipas.
Murders of online journalists are no longer rare in Mexico. Between September and November
2011, four people were brutally murdered in connection with their online writings. In each case,
the bodies, often bearing signs of torture, were displayed publicly and accompanied by notes
Lisa Goldman, “A Prominent Mexican Anti‐Corruption Blogger Has Gone Missing, TechPresident, Spetmeber 17, 2012,
Arjan Shahani, “Censorship in Mexico: The Case of Ruy Salgado, Americas Quarterly (blog), October 29, 2012,
Daniel Hernandez, “Facebook Page in Mexico Draws Attention for Posts on Security Risks, Los Angeles Times, February 9,
#Reynosafollow, “Observaciones en el Caso Valor por Tamaulipas” [Observations in the Case of Valor por Tamaulipas], Del
Twitter al Blog, April 12, 2013, http://chuynews.blogspot.com/2013/04/observaciones‐en‐el‐caso‐valor‐por_12.html.
Sin Embargo, “‘Valor por Tamaulipas,’ Que Operaba Bajo Amenaza del Narco, Cierra sus Cuentas de Twitter y Facebook,”
[‘Valor por Tamaulipas,’ Which Operated Under Threats from Drug Cartels, Closes its Twitter and Facebook Accounts]
SinEmbargo.mx, April 1, 2013, http://www.sinembargo.mx/01‐04‐2013/576396.
“Valor por Tamaulipas Official Facebook Back Online but Will Cease Operations in Eight Days,” Hispanic News Network USA
(blog), April 7, 2013, http://hispanicnewsnetwork.blogspot.com/2013/04/valor‐por‐tamaulipas‐official‐facebook.html; “Valor
por Tamaulipas Facebook Page to Remain, but Less Active,” Hispanic News Network USA (blog), April 14, 2013,
Periodistas en Riesgo, Crowdmap, “Amenaza de Muerte contra Tuitero de Tamaulipas” [Death Threat against Twitterers in
Tamaulipas], ICFJ and Freedom House, February 21, 2013, https://periodistasenriesgo.crowdmap.com/reports/view/45.
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REEDOM ON THE
explicitly stating that the murders were retribution for the victims’ posts on popular websites and
narcoblogs. At least one of the messages was signed “Z” for Zeta.
Echoing the fears of website moderators, who have implored contributors to continue reporting
but to do so anonymously, such targeted killings of website contributors were also carried out in
2012 and 2013.
In June 2012, Victor Manuel Baez Chino, a journalist who reported on crime for
the digital edition of weekly newspaper Mileno and also edited the crime reporters’ website
Reporteros Policiaos, was kidnapped and murdered. In a note accompanying his body, the Zeta drug
cartel claimed responsibility for Chino’s killing.
In November 2012, Adrián Silva Moreno, a
journalist in Tehuacán Puebla working for the online newspaper Glob@l México, was shot to death
while covering an army raid on a warehouse filled with stolen fuel.
Having been warned to leave
by a soldier, Silva was in the process of driving away when trucks arrived and began firing on his
car, killing him and his companion, Misray López González, a former policeman.
In March 2013, journalist Jaime Guadalupe González Domínguez, editor of the online news portal
Ojinaga Noticias, was murdered in broad daylight in Chihuahua, a state reportedly run by organized
crime. A group of men shot González 18 times before absconding with his camera. González’s
murder, which was foreshadowed by written threats warning him to avoid covering certain topics,
led to the closure of his online news portal, Ojinaga Noticias, which reported on local news, crime,
sports, and politics.
Hate campaigns against journalists also marred Mexican reporti
in 2012 and 2013, bringing
attacks against traditional journalists into the domain of the internet. The state Social
Communication General Coordination Office in San Luis Potosi made use of both Twitter and
Wordpress blogs in December 2012 and February 2013 to denigrate several journalists writing for
daily newspaper Pulso. After a video was leaked of the Office’s director, Juan Antonio Hernandez
Varela, ordering subordinates to create fake social networking accounts for the sole purpose of
discrediting government critics, Hernandez Varela resigned without explanation. It remains to be
seen whether such attacks will continue under the new director.
Robert Beckhusen, “Mexican Man Decapitated in Cartel Warning to Social Media,” Wired, November 9, 2011,
Sarah Kessler, “Mexican Blog Wars: Fourth Blogger Murdered for Reporting on Cartel,” Mashable, November 10, 2011,
UNESCO Press, “Director‐General Condemns Murder of Mexican Journalist Victor Manuel Baez Chino,” July 11, 2012,
Reporters Without Borders, “Un Periodista Asesinado a Balas en Tehuacán: “’Cuándo se Acabará la Violencia y la
Impunidad?’[Journalist Murdered in Tehuacan Bales: ‘When Will the Violence and Impunity End?], November 19, 2012,
Committee to Protect Journalists, “Editor de Sitio Web de Noticias Asesinado a Balazos en México” [Editor of News Site
Murdered by Gunshot in Mexico], March 5, 2013, http://cpj.org/es/2013/03/editor‐de‐sitio‐web‐de‐noticias‐asesinado‐a‐
balazo.php; UNESCO Press, “Director‐General Voices Deep Concern over the Killing of Mexican Journalist Jaime Gonzalez
Dominguez,” March 11, 2013, http://bit.ly/14Twxex; Reporters Without Borders, “Self‐Censorship: Newspapers in Northern
Border States Forced to Censor Themselves?,” March 12, 2013, http://bit.ly/ZlfI6x.
Reporters Without Borders, “The Dangers of Reporting: Organized Crime, Local Authorities Threaten Reporters and
Netizens,” March 4, 2013, http://en.rsf.org/mexico‐organized‐crime‐local‐authorities‐04‐03‐2013,44161.html; Eduardo
Delgado, “Gobierno Estatal Cambia de Vocero” [State Government Spokesman Changes], Pulso, March 5, 2013,
REEDOM ON THE
Cyberattacks have become an issue in Mexico in recent years, and pose a growing threat to critical
news sites. In September 2011, three online outlets known for critical coverage of state
government—Expediente Quintana Roo, Noticaribe, and Cuarto Poder—were temporarily
disabled by cyberattacks. Personal information and reporters’ notes were also stolen from their
In November 2011, weekly newspaper Riodoce was informed by its host provider that the
website had been the target of a large distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. Widely suspected
to be a reprisal for the publication’s aggressive reporting on crime and drug trafficking, the
cyberattack resulted in the website being inaccessible for several days.
continued to be reported in 2012 and early 2013. Vincente Carrera, director of online newspaper
Noticaribe, which was temporarily paralyzed by DDoS attacks in late 2011 and early 2013, stated
that recent attacks, which disabled the site for weeks, were likely government retaliation for the
outlet’s coverage of electoral violations and state debt.
One notable case of repeated DDoS attacks targeted rompeviento.tv, an independent, left-leaning
internet television site intended to present the public with an alternate perspective on news.
Rompviento, which counts an audience of 600,000 visitors per month, was disabled by continuous
cyberattacks after it aired contentious political content.
During the broadcast of a debate
organized by YoSoy132, Rompviento lost broadband access and its webpage subsequently vanished.
Despite multiple attempts to recover content, the original website appears to have been deleted
permanently. Administrators of the host platform, mydomain, were unable to provide explanation
or assistance with the issue. As of May 2013, however, the new rompeviento.tv website was
accessible both from within Mexico and from outside the country.
Monica Medel, “Three News Websites Hacked in Mexico,” Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas (blog), July 15, 2011,
International Freedom of Expression eXchange, “Weekly Goes Offline after Cyber Attack,” news release, November 28, 2011,
Tania Lara, “Mexican Digital Newspaper Disabled by Frequent Cyberattacks,” Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas
(blog), April 20, 2012, http://knightcenter.utexas.edu/blog/00‐9806‐mexican‐digital‐newspaper‐disabled‐frequent‐
In a recent interview, Ernesto Ledesma, Director General of Rompeviento (www.rompeviento.tv) stated that the company
has identified a pattern of disruptions. Although the signal is steady for cultural programs, when the company attempts to
broadcast critical political programs, the signal is lost. While Rompviento cannot prove government interference, a pattern has
emerged in which disruptions seem to be tied to the airing of political content.
REEDOM ON THE
Blocking orders on numerous websites and online tools were lifted as the government
introduced a series of liberalizing measures to counter rising discontent heightened by
the events of the Arab Spring (see L
Despite constitutional reforms introduced in 2011, restrictive press and national
security laws continued to plague the online media landscape and induce a spirit of self-
censorship (see V
Several online users were arrested under these laws for comments and videos they
posted to Facebook, YouTube, and blogs (see V
Obstacles to Access (0-25)
Limits on Content (0-35)
Violations of User Rights (0-40)
*0=most free, 100=least free
REEDOM ON THE
Research universities led the development of the internet in Morocco from the early 1990s, with
internet access extended to the general public in 1996. Initially, the internet’s diffusion was slow in
Morocco due primarily to the high cost of computers and poor infrastructure.
combined impact of the liberalization, deregulation, and privatization of the telecommunications
sector, as well as the legal and technological modernization of Moroccan broadcasting media, a
growing and dynamic digital media market has emerged. This phenomenon has been furthered by
the recent opening of the political system.
Social media has triggered a revival of the media’s traditional function as a watchdog, acting as a
check on the misconduct of the political regime. It has also been used as a tool for nascent political
movements to organize and mobilize supporters across the country, particularly in the context of
the Arab Spring. The February 20
Movement, which started on Facebook and relies heavily on
digital media for communication, has held rallies throughout the country demanding democratic
reforms, a parliamentary monarchy, social justice, greater economic opportunities, and more
effective anticorruption measures. Two weeks after the first demonstrations, King Mohamed VI
responded by announcing new constitutional reforms in which he promised to devolve limited
aspects of his wide-ranging powers to the elected head of government and the parliament. Included
in this reform package were provisions to grant greater independence to the judiciary and an
expansion of civil liberties. The king’s proposals were approved by 98.5 percent of Moroccan
voters in a popular referendum held on July 1, 2011, for which voter turnout was 84 percent. The
measures resulted in a lifting of all politically-motivated filtering.
The most remarkable change in internet use among Moroccans is the growing interest in social
media and user-generated content, as well as domestic news portals. In 2010, the top ten most
visited websites did not include any Moroccan news website.
By 2012, the sixth most visited site
was Hespress.com, the most popular online news and information website in Morocco with
estimated 400,000 unique visitors per day. Besides Hespress, the sports website Koora.com is the
only other Arabic-language site in the Top 10.
Before the Arab Spring, government intervention to
block and delete online content was relatively common. Today, the state no longer engages in
technical filtering; it uses the existing laws to limit freedom of speech for online users. As a result,
several online users were arrested over the past year.
Ibahrine, M. (2007). The Internet and Politics in Morocco: The Political Use of the Internet by Islam Oriented Political
Movements. Berlin: VDM Verlag.
Bouziane Zaid and Mohamed Ibahrine, Mapping Digital Media: Morocco, available at,
http://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/reports/mapping‐digital‐media‐morocco, (accessed February 24 2013).
Facebook, Google, YouTube, Google Morocco, and Blogspot were the five most visited sites in 2012. See “Top Sites in
Morocco,” Alexa, http://www.alexa.com/topsites/countries/MA (accessed January 14 2013).
REEDOM ON THE
Internet access in Morocco has increased steadily in recent years, although obstacles remain in place
in certain areas of the country. The internet penetration rate grew from just over 21 percent of the
population in 2007 to 55 percent in 2012, according to the International Telecommunication
By end of 2012, roughly 2 in 100 inhabitants possessed a fixed-broad subscription,
or around 17.8 percent of all subscribers.
The remaining 82.2 percent of all subscriptions are
through 3G devices, including both data-only and voice-and-data connections.
By December 2012,
mobile phone penetration reached a rate of 119.7 percent, a rise of almost 20 percentage points
compared to 2010.
Internet access is currently limited to educated and urban segments of Morocco’s population.
There is a major discrepancy in terms of network coverage between urban and rural areas.
Telecommunications companies do not abide by the ITU principle of telecommunications as a
public service, instead preferring to invest in more lucrative urban areas. Rural inhabitants
constitute 37.1 percent of the overall population and while many have access to electricity,
television, and radio, most do not have access to phone lines and high speed internet. The high rate
of illiteracy is another obstacle (43 percent of Moroccans aged 10 and above are illiterate). Most
Moroccan households are not prepared to access content provided by digital media, but recent
developments in the telecoms sector show that this situation is likely to change in the near future.
The Moroccan government has undertaken several programs aimed at improving the country’s ICT
sector. Launched in March 2005, the GENIE project (the French acronym for “Generalization of
ICTs in Education”) aims to extend the use of ICTs throughout the public education system.
Owing to positive results, another round of implementation was launched for the period of 2009-
2013 to improve the training and professional development of teachers and encourage the adoption
of ICTs by public school students. PACTE (French for “Program of Generalized Access to
Telecommunications”) was launched in 2008 to provide 9,263 communities, or 2 million
Moroccans, with telecoms services by 2010.
Financing for the project came from Morocco’s
Universal Service Fund for Telecommunications. The fund was created in 2005 using contributions
from the three major telecoms operators: Maroc Telecom, Medi Telecom, and INWI. More
recently, in 2009, authorities established the national strategy “Maroc Numérique 2013” (Digital
The strategy aims to achieve nationwide access to high-speed internet by 2013
“Percentage of individuals using the internet,” ITU, 2000‐2012, available at http://www.itu.int/en/ITU‐
“Fixed (wired‐)broadband subscriptions,” ITU, 2000‐2012, available at http://www.itu.int/en/ITU‐
“Internet Market in Morocco: Quarterly Observatory” Agence Nationale de Réglementation des Télécommunications, March
“Mobile‐cellular subscriptions,” ITU, 2012, http://www.itu.int/en/ITU‐D/Statistics/Pages/stat/default.aspx.
ANRT, Rapport Annuel (Annual Report), 2008, available at
http://www.anrt.net.ma/fr/admin/download/upload/ﬁle_fr1702.pdf, (accessed 5 January 2013) (hereafter ANRT, Rapport
ANRT, Rapport Annuel, 2008.
“HM the King chairs presentation ceremony of national strategy ‘Maroc Numeric 2013’,” available at
REEDOM ON THE
and to develop e-government programs to bring the administration closer to its citizens, while
encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises to adopt ICTs into their business practices. It has a
budget of MAD 5.2 billion (around $520 million).
Perhaps as a result of these efforts, internet use remains relatively affordable. For a 3G prepaid
connection of up to 7.2 Mbps, customers pay MAD 223 ($26) for initial connectivity fees and then
MAD 10 per day ($0.82) or MAD 200 per month ($23.6). Internet users pay on average MAD 3
($0.35) for one hour of connection in cybercafés.
In the post-Arab Spring era, the government no longer blocks Web 2.0 applications, anonymous
proxy tools, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services. However, in February 2012 there
was a report that Maroc Telecom briefly disrupted VoIP services such as Skype, TeamSpeak, and
Viber in order to tamper with the quality of the calls. Some speculated that the actions were
motivated by financial concerns over competition to traditional fixed-line services provided by the
Service providers such as ISPs, cybercafes, and mobile phone companies do not face any major
legal, regulatory, or economic obstacles.
The allocation of digital resources, such as domain
names or IP addresses, is carried out by organizations in a non-discriminatory manner.
to the Network Information Centre, which manages the “.ma” domain, there were 43,354
registered Moroccan domain names in 2012.
The National Agency for the Regulation of Telecommunications (ANRT) is an independent
government body created in 1998 to regulate and liberalize the telecommunications sector. The
founding law of the ANRT considers the telecommunications sector as a driving force for
Morocco’s social and economic development and the agency is meant to create an efficient and
transparent regulatory framework that favors competition among operators.
A liberalization of
the telecoms sector aims to achieve the long-term goals of increasing GDP, creating jobs,
supporting the private sector, and encouraging internet-based businesses, among others. While
Maroc Telecom, the oldest telecoms provider, effectively controls the telephone cable
infrastructure, the ANRT is tasked to settle the prices at which the company’s rivals (such as Medi-
Numeric+2013.htm (accessed 24 February 2013).
Hisham Almiraat, “Morocco: Historic Telecom Operator Blocks Skype,” available at,
http://globalvoicesonline.org/2012/02/19/morocco‐historic‐telecom‐operator‐blocks‐skype/ (accessed 24 February 2013). See
also, Brahim Oubahouman, “Maroc Télécom interdit Skype et d’autres services VoIP”, available at,
http://www.moroccangeeks.com/maroc‐telecom‐interdit‐skype‐et‐autres‐services‐voip/ (accessed 24 February 2013).
Interviews conducted on 20 February 2013, with Dr. Hamid Harroud and Dr. Tajjedine Rachdi, respectively director and
former director of Information Technologies services of Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane.
Network Information Centre, the service that manages the domain .ma, is owned by Maroc Telecom. There are calls for
domain.ma to be managed by an independent entity, not a commercial telecoms company.
Network Information Centre, available at http://www.nic.ma/statistiques.asp (accessed 18 February 2013). This service is
owned by Maroc Telecom.
Lois régissant la poste et les télécommunications (Laws governing the post and telecommunications), available online at
http://www.anrt.ma/fr/admin/download/upload/file_fr1825.pdf (accessed 11 February 2013).
Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested