Internet Freedom in Mexico
In the last year, access to the internet in Mexico has improved, but internet freedom has not been any better. Like most developing countries, the government is not as transparent as it is expected to be. There are reforms which focus on increasing internet access, and regulating media, but there are clear movements to restrict internet use that the government denies accountability to.
In 2013, in efforts to improve mobile penetration and increase wireless connectivity, telecommunication reforms were made which developed Red Compartida, and Red Troncal. Red Compartida is a wholesale wireless network, while Red Troncal is a backbone network which both sought to improve and make affordable the current telecommunication services of Mexico. As a result, connections were reached 36 million people when it launched its operations in 2018.
However, the digital divide remains prevalent among urban and rural users. Urban areas already have better connectivity access, but the reforms only resulted in a 14% reach in rural areas and a whopping 86% for urban areas. Currently, Mexico still aims to make a bigger reach.
While there are no direct links or recorded activities of the government imposing restrictions on connectivity and use, Mexican Telecommunications Law is careful in ensuring that it can make restrictions when needed. While Telecommunications companies have their own infrastructures to operate, the government maintains greater control over them and even has a right to request suspension of service when found to be used to perpetrate crimes.
In Mexico, physical violence, censorship, and intimidation still prevail, attacking journalists, online activists, and human rights lawyers who are openly talking about digital manipulation, crime and corruption within the government. While no clear evidence can pinpoint the Mexican Government as the culprit, there are apparent technical attacks against online media companies who are openly talking about these forms of activities, especially during the 2018 elections.
Moreover, unreasonable Federal Copyright Laws were also heavily imposed, which allows courts to censor content even in the absence of actual proof of copyright violations.
While the government does not control what may or may not be posted on the web, it does requests through social media platforms the removal of some contents that it finds defamatory. There were recorded reports of flagging or removal requests to Facebook, Twitter, and Google claiming to be due to copyright, security, and fraud.
However, media outlets online remain to be the subject of attacks, while these attacks may not be directly linked to the government, it is clear that the internet was used as a platform among politicians, officials and other entities as a means of mudslinging, misinformation and derailing media companies. During the 2018 election period in Mexico, the live streaming of the presidential debates posted by media outlet Aristegui Noticias in its Facebook page was constantly flagged as sexually suggestive and graphic, affecting the views of the stream.
During the 2018 campaigns, female candidates became subject of manipulated videos, images and reports all sought to discredit their image and integrity. Online trolls were also present which attacked online journalists and organizations seeking to provide clean and honest information. In some cases, these acts translated to physical violence and harassment leaving media outlets to self-censor to avoid further attacks.
The public also questioned the government’s control over their online presence and privacy. This became even more apparent due to the 2016 Supreme Court decision which upheld provisions on surveillance. Moreover, in December 2017, Mexico’s Internal Security Law gave its own armed forces added control to surveillance by allowing them to access any and all forms of communications to gather intelligence in the interest of national security.
Mexico also heavily invested in tools of espionage and digital spying technologies. Reports show that Mexico has signed contracts for various agencies with a surveillance company, even though these agencies have no constitutional authority to conduct any form of investigation or surveillance.
Further, several accusations were made by human rights lawyers, journalists, and media outlets against the government for using these technologies as a means of targeting journalists and oppositions who openly talk about questionable government transactions.
Mexico is located between the United States and Central America and is home to 132,190,532 people, constituting 1.72% of the world’s population. It has a land area of 750,563 square miles with 79.3% of it considered as urban areas.
Mexico embraces influence and history, which is why the culture there is very rich and complex. Mexico is heavily influenced by religion due to Spanish colonizers that have occupied the country for at least 300 years. This is why most holidays are still heavily dominated by Roman Catholicism.
Likewise, Mexicans continue to celebrate festivals commemorating patron saints such as Dia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, and traditional celebrations like Christmas.
Due to telecommunications reforms, Mexico currently has over 70 million active internet users and is the 10th country with the highest internet users worldwide. Daily, 80% of these users access the internet to visit social media sites. The number of users is expected to grow half of its current users by 2021 due to the impact of ongoing reforms.
It also has an impressive open economy which allows from technological growth and influence. Companies like IBM, Tata Consultancy Services, and more trade from Mexico because it has very limited restrictions on import and export. The current leading tech companies in Mexico now are IBM, KIO Networks, Telmex, Oracle, Microsoft in that order because its geographical location makes it more accessible to countries like Canada and the United States
Because of this, more and more people are encouraged to learn and develop their own software programs. Small tech firms have grown into enormous scales and have even grown to the point that some companies outsource business processes in other countries.
KIO Networks, for instance, was founded by Mexicans only in 2002. However, it has already grown into a big corporation, with clients ranging from Central America, the Caribbean, and even Europe.
Why You Need a VPN in Mexico
While Mexico is turning out as one of the fastest growing IT providers in the world, it appears that access to the internet still leaves something to be desired. It is fairly challenging to access free and unfiltered sites, let alone express yourself or spread messages that will not be subject to scrutiny.
Considering Mexico’s current political and social climate, attacks against journalists and surveillance issues, you may want to get a VPN to avoid any form of threat or violence.
Here are some reasons why you may need to get a VPN in Mexico:
- It allows you to openly discuss political issues and any other controversial topic more openly. Having a VPN gives you enough privacy protection and anonymity.
- If you want to torrent certain material, there are no laws that prevent this, however, due to current surveillance activities having your own VPN may avoid any question as to your online activity;
- If you have international subscriptions, like Amazon or Netflix, having a VPN may allow you to access other shows not available in Mexico;
- You can also research just about anything if you use a VPN of a country that has 100% internet freedom such as Canada;
VPNs are used to ease internet access and information gathering. It should never encourage the proliferation of criminal activity.