REEDOM ON THE
and rewarding those who publish supportive media.
This phenomenon has had a negative impact
on freedom of expression, particularly in the print and broadcast media sectors.
allocated to internet activities represent only three percent of the federal advertising budget, during
the first semester of 2012, 42 percent of that sum was assigned to only 10 beneficiaries, all with
clear ties to the federal government.
In March 2011, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that
the government must utilize equitable measures in its distribution of state advertising.
Due to the
government’s non-compliance, the Federal Court of Appeals issued a new request in August 2012
urging the state to abide by the law.
To date, the government has faced no penalties for non-
There are no restrictions on access to national or foreign news sources, and Argentines are able to
express themselves freely online. According to some observers, the vigor of the pro-government
blogosphere has increased since 2009, although other oppositional political parties have also started
to gain ground.
A wide range of views are shared online, including those related to potentially
sensitive topics such as the recent designation of Pope Francisco despite allegations that he was
complicit in abuses carried out by the Argentine Government in 1976.
Opinions regarding the
controversial Argentina-Iran agreement—which concerns the 1990s terrorist attack of a Jewish
Association in Buenos Aires—are also voiced online.
Despite such vigorous discussion, journalists
have complained about a lack of access to government representatives and a dearth of official press
conferences. In 2009, an online portal called Mejor Democracia (“Better Democracy”), which
provided the public with government-related information, was shut down. When it later reopened,
“Dimensión de la Publicidad Oficial en la Argentina” [The Dimension of Official Publicity in Argentina], Poder Ciudadano,
accessed March 20, 2012, http://poderciudadano.org/wp/wp‐content/uploads/2011/12/Informaci%C3%B3n‐preliminar‐PO‐
Poder‐Ciudadano.pdf; Asociacion por los Derechos Civiles and Open Society Justice Initiative, “Buying the News: A report on
Financial and Indirect Censorship in Argentina,” Open Society Institute (2005),
Poder Ciudadano, “Dimensión de la Publicidad Oficial en la Argentina.”
Juan Pablo de Santis, “En Internet, el Dinero de la Publicidad Oficial También Queda en Pocas Manos” [On the Internet,
Official Advertising is Also in the Hands of a Few], La Nacion, March 21, 2013, http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1564903‐en‐
IFEX, “Supreme Court Urges Government to Avoid Bias in Allocating State Advertising,” news release, March 8, 2011,
http://www.ifex.org/argentina/2011/03/08/omit_discriminatory_criteria/; Committee to Protect Journalists, “Supreme Court
Tells Argentina to Avoid Bias in Allocating Ads,” March 4, 2011, http://cpj.org/2011/03/supreme‐court‐urges‐argentina‐to‐
“La Publicidad Oficial” [The Official Advertising], Pagina 12, August 15, 2012, http://www.pagina12.com.ar/diario/elpais/1‐
201096‐2012‐08‐15.html; Clarin, “Publicidad Oficial: Otro Fallo en Favor de Perfil” [Official Advertising: Another Ruling Benefits Perfil],
Clarin, August 15, 2012, http://www.clarin.com/politica/Publicidad‐oficial‐fallo‐favor‐Perfil_0_755924464.html; Editorial Perfil
SA c/ Federal Government – Chief of Staff of Ministers – SMCs under Law 16.986, March 2011; Editorial Black River [Rio Negro]
SA c/ Neuquén Province s/amparo, Fallos 330:3907, September 2007.
Jorge Gobbi, “Argentina: Presidential Elections, a Review of Blogs,” Global Voices, October 26, 2011,
Mariano Castillo, “Humble Pope Has Complicated Past,” CNN, March 16, 2013,
http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/14/world/americas/argentina‐pope‐profile; Luis Majul, “Francisco le Gana a CFK en Todos los
Frentes” [Francisco Beats CFK on Every Front], La Nacion, March 21, 2013, http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1565328‐francisco‐le‐
Hernan Cappiello, “Buscan Anular en la Justicia el Acuerdo con Irán” [The Jewish Community is Trying to Annul the Treaty
with Iran], La Nacion, March 1, 2013, http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1558988‐buscan‐anular‐en‐la‐justicia‐el‐acuerdo‐con‐iran.
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REEDOM ON THE
it did so with reduced transparency, offering notably less information than in its previous
This is true to the present day.
Most civil society organizations also maintain their own websites, although user engagement in
sociopolitical movements is relatively low. Mobile phones, meanwhile, are increasingly being used
as a tool for activism; such devices will likely play decisive roles in future political movements.
Mobile phone users have also utilized social media in order to protest poor quality of service by
orchestrating cellular blackouts, or periods of time when large groups of users refuse to use their
cellphones. Such measures have also been applied to social networks such as Twitter (#14N) and
Facebook (Apagón Celular de Facebook, also known as the Cell Blackout Facebook Group).
The popularity of social media tools has grown overall in recent years. By April 2012, Argentina
had over 20 million registered Facebook users, representing almost 50 percent of the population,
as well as approximately 1.6 million Twitter users.
In late 2012, a major antigovernment protest
known as 8N (November 8) was mobilized using social media. The movement, which culminated
in thousands of people taking to the streets of Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Cordoba, and other cities to
protest corruption, violent crime, diminishing freedom of expression, and inflation, was organized
over Twitter (#8N) and Facebook. Throughout the protest, photos, videos, and opinions appeared
on Twitter, both in support of the movement (#8NYoVoyPorQue, “I go because”) and against it
(#8NYoNoVoyPorQue, “I don’t go because”). Even those not in favor of protesting were largely in
agreement over the problems Argentina is facing, and saw the movement as a catalyst to make use
of social media to call for change through various avenues such as reform and voting.
The scope of
the campaign, which began informally on social networks, was so large that shadow protests
occurred outside Argentine embassies in locations as far flung as Rome and Sydney.
8N was the
largest protest in Argentina in over a decade, mobilizing at least 30,000 people in Buenos Aires
according to local police, a figure which regional media placed closer to 100,000.
Asociacion por los Derechos Civiles, “Califican de ‘Retroceso’ el Bloqueo de la Web Oficial” [‘Regression’ Rating Blocks OFficial
Website], October 8, 2009, http://www.adc.org.ar/sw_contenido.php?id=643.
Lourdes Cajrdenas, “ONG Movilizan a Ciudadanos por Celular” [NGOs Mobilize Citizenship by Cellphone], CNN Expansion,
January 15, 2010, http://www.cnnexpansion.com/expansion/2009/12/11/Mensajes‐sin‐excusas.
“Convocan a un Apagon de Celulares el Miercoles” [Mobile Blackout on Wednesday], La Nacion, November 13, 2012,
Social Bakers, “Argentina: Facebook Statics,” accessed February 1, 2013, http://www.socialbakers.com/facebook‐
New Media Trend Watch, “Markets by Country: Argentina,” European Travel Commission (2012)
Laura Schneider, “#8N: Nueva Protesta Masiva en Argentina” [#8N: New Massive Protest in Argentina], Global Voices ,
November 9, 2012, http://es.globalvoicesonline.org/2012/11/09/8n‐nueva‐protesta‐masiva‐en‐argentina/.
“Bergman: ‘Hubo Organización y Logística en la Marcha del 8N’" [Bergman: Organiztion and Logistic Work for the 8N
Mobilization], El Intransigente, November 8, 2012, http://www.elintransigente.com/notas/2012/11/8/bergmanhubo‐
organizacion‐logistica‐marcha‐del‐8n‐155979.asp; “Una Multitud se Movilizó en el 8N y Hubo Cacerolazos en Casi Todo el País”
[Big Crowd for the 8N and ´Cacerolazos´in Nearly the Whole Country], La Nacion, November 8, 2012,
http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1524741‐cacerolazo‐8n; Conz Preti, “Argentines Take to the Streets to Protest,” ABC News,
November 8, 2012, http://abcnews.go.com/ABC_Univision/News/page/argentines‐world‐streets‐protest‐17673951.
Damian Pachter, “Argentines Protest in Huge Anti‐Government March,” The Huffington Post, November 8, 2012,
REEDOM ON THE
The Argentine Constitution and human rights treaties incorporated into the Constitution in 1994
guarantee freedom of expression.
Additional laws ensure that citizens have the liberty to express
their views without fear of censorship or reprisal. In 2005, constitutional protections were
explicitly extended to “the search, reception and dissemination of ideas and information of all kinds
via internet services” under Law 26032.
The Argentine judiciary is generally seen as independent, particularly in its higher echelons, such as
the Supreme Court of Justice. The Supreme Court has issued several rulings supportive of freedom
of expression in recent years. Among these are the aforementioned 2011 decision regarding
discriminatory allocation of government advertising, as well as the 2009 suspension of a
requirement mandating that service providers retain user data for ten years.
The government has
also been responsive to decisions of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the
recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. These procedures have
helped accelerate reform of the criminal code’s provisions on insult (desacato) and defamation. In
November 2009, the legislature decriminalized defamatory statements referring to matters of
No specific laws criminalize online expression related to political or social issues. The 2008 Law on
Cybercrime (Law 26388) amended the Argentine Criminal Code to cover offenses such as hacking,
dissemination of child pornography, and other online crimes.
Some of the amendments have been
criticized as overly vague and imprecise in their wording, which could open the door to broad
interpretations. Lawyers and human rights groups have also expressed concern over the country’s
antiterrorism law, arguing that the definition of terrorism provided is overly broad and could
therefore be employed to punish legitimate political dissent, social protests, or economic analysis.
So far, neither of these laws has been used in practice to punish online expression. As of May 2013,
no bloggers, online journalists, or ordinary users were imprisoned for the expression of their views
in online forums or via private communications. One website administrator, however, was facing
criminal charges and a possible jail term over allegations of profiting from copyrighted material.
See Article 14, “Argentine Constitution,” Senate of the Argentine Nation, accessed March 20, 2012,
http://www.senado.gov.ar/web/interes/constitucion/english.php. The constitution was amended in 1994, and Article 75 (22)
now accords numerous international human rights treaties with constitutional status and precedence over national laws.
Law 26032 [in Spanish] (2005), Documentation and Information Center, accessed March 20, 2012,
Judgment of Halabi v. P.E.N. Argentine Supreme Court, June 26, 2007; Lorenzo Villegas Carrasquilla, “Personal Data Protection
in Latin America: Retention and Processing of Personal Data in the Internet Sphere,” Center for Studies in Freedom of
Expression and Access to Information, http://www.palermo.edu/cele/pdf/english/Internet‐Free‐of‐Censorship/05‐
Reform Law 26551, See: CELE http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1512551‐calumnias‐e‐injurias‐dos‐delitos‐de‐incomoda‐vigencia.
Law26.388 [in Spanish] (2008), Documentation and Information Center, accessed March 20, 2012,
Lillie Langtry, “Argentina: Concerns Over New Terrorism Law,” Memory in Latin America, December 30, 2011,
http://memoryinlatinamerica.blogspot.com/2011/12/argentina‐concerns‐over‐new‐terrorism.html; “Argentina: Fears Over
Terror Law,” New York Times, December 28, 2011, http://nyti.ms/16QpCiO.
REEDOM ON THE
Although violence against online journalists occurs sporadically, it is not nearly as frequent as
violence against those working for traditional media outlets. Local press freedom watchdogs
recorded approximately 70 cases of physical and verbal attacks against journalists during the first
half of 2012. Most attacks were attributed to non-state actors in inland regions against those
working for traditional media outlets.
However, in some cases, the targeted journalists also
maintained websites or contributed to online news outlets. Another report by The Argentine
Journalists Forum, known as FOPEA, recorded 172 attacks on reporters during 2012; 11 percent
of attacks were against people working for digital media outlets.
In one incident from April 2012, Jorge Peña, a city council president in Candelaria, punched TV
journalist and news website editor Daniel Luna, who was arguing against being denied access to
cover a city council session; the council president was subsequently charged for injuring the
Shortly after, in May 2012, the city council rejected Peña´s request for restitution. In
the same session, Rodrigo Castillo, another online news journalist, was attacked while trying to
obtain photographs of a city council member. When alerted about this event, the police disregarded
the accusation and made no effort to detain the aggressors.
During 2012, some journalists were also subject to defamatory campaigns and privacy breaches
extending to the unauthorized disclosure of their personal information on public websites. Gustavo
Sylvestre, a political analyst, journalist, and blogger was targeted with such a smear campaign. His
business, family, and tax information, as well as the phone numbers and addresses of his personal
contacts, were published online. Days later, a derogatory article was published about him.
Sylvestre’s work, which is highly political in nature, seems likely to have been the motive behind
the virtual attack. Although concerning, as of May 2013, such incidents did not appear to be
widespread or on the rise.
There are no restrictions on anonymity for internet users, nor are there restrictions on the use of
encryption. Users are able to freely post anonymous comments in a variety of online forums, and
neither bloggers nor website owners are required to register with the government. When
purchasing a mobile phone or prepaid SIM card, however, users must provide identifying
Committee to Protect Journalists, “Argentina,” in Attacks on the Press 2011, (New York: February 2012) ,
FOPEA, “Fredoom of Expression Monitor in Argentina,” 2012 Report (2013),
Liliana Honorato, “Argentine City Council President Punches Journalist in the Face,” Journalism in the Americas, April 19,
FOPEA, “Nueva Agresion a Periodista en Candelaria” [New Aggression to Journalist in Candelaria], May 9, 2012,
FOPEA, “Solidaridad de FOPEA con el Periodista Gustavo Sylvestre por el Artículo que Revela Datos de su Vida Privada y
Familiar” [FOPEA in Solidarity with Gustavo Sylvestre], August 31, 2012, http://bit.ly/1bXeFE5.
REEDOM ON THE
In December 2011, the Argentine Network Information Center (NIC.ar) was placed
directly under the oversight of the Executive branch of the government.
In late 2012, incidents of domain name denials emerged in cases where the names related in some
way to President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner or to the progovernment youth group La
Campora. In such cases, applications were either denied by NIC.ar or applicants were asked to
modify their proposed domain names. The sole mention of the President’s first or last name
reportedly reason enough for an application to be called into question.
Accordingly, domains such
as cristinacorazon.com.ar, enlacampora.com.ar, and kirchnerismopasion.com.ar were rejected
immediately. Upon asking for clarification, Argentine newspaper Perfil was told that such domains
were forbidden due to their potential to “affect the morale of the person” in question.
restrictions impact sites critical of the administration as well as those which support the
government, complicating efforts to develop online platforms dedicated to discussions of national
In Argentina, a court order is officially required to intercept private communications, even in cases
related to national security.
It is believed that these procedures are generally followed in practice,
although the government does not publish figures on how many interceptions are implemented
annually. According to Google’s Transparency Report, between July and December 2012 the
Argentine authorities made 114 requests for user data covering 175 accounts; Google complied
with the release of some data in 38 percent of cases.
Microsoft’s 2012 Law Enforcement Request
Report states a total number of 769 requests for user data covering 1,279 accounts. Microsoft
complied with 85.7 percent of requests and found no system data for the remaining 14.3 percent.
All requests were determined to satisfy relevant legal requirements.
Over the past decade, there have been several scandals involving officials on both sides of the
political spectrum engaging in illegal surveillance of opponents’ telephone communications. In one
high-profile scandal, evidence surfaced of navy personnel monitoring former President Nestor
Law 19.798, Resolution 490/97 [in Spanish] (1997), “http://www.cnc.gob.ar/normativa/sc0490_97.pdf; Secretaria de
Comunicasiones, “Apruebase de Relamento General de Clientes de lso Servicios de Comunicaciones Moviles” [Text of the
General Terms for Users of Mobile Communication Services], National Communications Commission, accessed March 20, 2012,
Network information centers are responsible for the allocation of domain names and registry administration in different
Eduardo Bertoni and Atilio Grimani, “Nombres de Dominio: Una Expresion que merece ser Protegida” [Domain Names: An
Expression Worth Protecting], CELE – iLEI, November, 2012, http://bit.ly/1dSs1zC.
, “El Gobierno Rechaza y se Apropia de Dominios de Internet con Nombres K” [Government Denies and Owns Internet
Domains with K Names on Them], Perfil, September 9, 2012,
Law19.798, Articles 45 bis, 45 ter and 45 quáter [in Spanish] (1972), “Law of National Telecommunications,” Documentation
and Information Center, accessed March 20, 2012, http://infoleg.mecon.gov.ar/infolegInternet/anexos/30000‐
34999/31922/texact.htm;: Law25.520 [in Spanish] (2001), “Law of National Intelligence,” Documentation and Information
“Google Transparency Report, Argentina.”.
Microsoft, Microsoft Law Enforcement Requests Report 2012, http://download.microsoft.com/download/F/3/8/F38AF681‐
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