It's being called the "Mexican SOPA," especially by press sources wanting to place highly with Google News. Last week, Mexican Senator Federico Döring announced an anti-piracy bill, which that country's justice ministry describes as establishing a notification service for suspected content pirates, one which would enable the authorities to obtain those suspects' identities.
That triggered a series of denial-of-service attacks against Mexican government Web sites, probably because Sen. Döring and President Felipe Calderón belong to the same political party (the center-right-wing National Action Party, or PAN). But taking responsibility for these attacks is "Anonymous," the same group that just a few months earlier announced they were suspending online activities in Mexico after one of its members was kidnapped, allegedly by the Los Zetas drug cartel. That cartel later claimed responsibility for hanging two people from a bridge, identifying them as bloggers reporting on cartel activities from social media Web sites.
It is the latest fuel for the cauldron of Russia Today, the bilingual news service that has carefully been portraying the Anonymous group as a modern gang of Robin Hoods, the heroes of the oppressed, downtrodden and media-forlorn. RT had already built up a theme around Anonymous' global activities, the latest episode centering around an evidently successful hack of Texas-based private intelligence firm Stratfor.
A cache of private e-mails, RT reports, showed state law enforcement authorities having consulted with Stratfor in probable surveillance operations against individuals connected with the Occupy protest movement.
From RT's perspective, last November 5 was the date when Americans everywhere transferred their savings out of major banks and into small, private lending institutions (which assumes we located some small, private lending institutions). This apparently in a nationwide show of support against a global conspiracy which, RT implies, links together the common interests of the Los Zetas cartel, prominent U.S. banks and Fox News. Add to that illustrious list the oil companies with which Stratfor does business, the movie industry, and now the Mexican Senate and the resulting plot as reported by RT looks like a reunion of CHAOS for the next "Get Smart" movie.
The Döring bill (Ley Döring) along with SOPA, ACTA (which is actually a treaty, not a bill) and other measures would, in RT's words, "cripple the Internet, effectively killing all Web sites allowing user-uploaded content, endangering potential whistleblowers and severely damaging online freedom of speech."
El Economista quotes Sen. Döring as placing himself firmly in the anti-SOPA camp. He sees his bill as a response to measures worldwide, especially in the U.S., that would appear to support censorship as a means of combatting piracy. (The Google translation from Spanish inaccurately states the Döring bill was passed; in fact, it was merely introduced.)Meanwhile, the Earth-based news service
The bill would amend existing Mexican law to establish a method for notifying individuals when it appears they've pirated content. There's no indication yet as to how that evidence would be collected, though conceivably ISPs might be involved in the collection of that evidence. Worldwide, including in the U.S. and Europe, ISPs have signaled their disapproval of any law that would compel them to police their own users.
But in a provision of the bill that Sen. Döring characterized as "friendly," abusers would not be criminalized or jailed. Instead, the law would institute a garnishing of their wages, which would be capped at the minimum wage per hour, and spread out between 30 and 20,000 hours (about ten years) of work.
The blog digest All About Internet (Todo sobre Internet, English-language translation here) quotes Sen. Döring in a radio interview saying the notification service he proposes would not involve the collection of personal information, even going so far as to say it would not retain the e-mail address of the suspect. The implication is that the ISP would enable the notification to be sent to the IP address, which would then be seen by whoever used the computer.
That doesn't exactly explain how the holder of the ISP address would get his wages garnished.
The post by Geraldine Juárez goes on to cite a curious "piracy" incident involving Döring himself, in which he was publicly accused of having used a copyrighted photograph of a polar bear as his own Twitter avatar. The senator was then apparently called out for the inadvertent photo swipe by the original photographer. Under the intellectual property regime Döring would put in place, Juárez suggests, he himself would be notified of violations and be subject to getting his wages garnished.
One clear suggestion there is that almost anyone could find themselves owing levies to the government for inadvertent "piracy" compensation. Another is that such levies would affect certain people less than others.
One side-effect of Anonymous' attacks on government Web sites is the public perception worldwide that it is Anonymous which has had an impact on anti-piracy legislation, including the indefinite tabling of SOPA in the U.S., instead of public protests. That is why, when I was asked by Colombia's NTN24 news this morning whether Anonymous could have the same impact in Mexico, Poland, and elsewhere as it did in the U.S., I felt the need to set the record straight.
Anonymous, I said, has been relatively successful in garnering public support, as the champion of the oppressed. At some point, I added, all terrorist organizations find themselves seeking a media relations specialist, in order to tie themselves to a populist cause. Anonymous may be doing this, I said, on a very low level. Having found itself in very hot water going up against the Mexican drug cartels, it may have decided to pull back somewhat, speaking up instead on behalf of causes with a broad base of public support (like anti-censorship) but that won't get its members killed.