Internet filter law moving toward final legislative approval

A proposed law that would require filters on public Internet computers to protect minors is moving to a final vote in the Asamblea Legislativa.

This is the proposal, 17.164, that has been before lawmakers in one form or another for several years.

The current version requires Internet cafe operators to post signs telling youngsters what dangers lurk on the Internet and in chat rooms. It also requires filters on 80 percent of the public computers.

The proposal does not specify a brand of filters but the law requires one that blocks pornography, obscene language, sites that promote aggression and physical, sexual and emotional violence, sites with information on how to build
explosive devices, those that promote war, those that promote racism, xenophobia or other forms of
discrimination and programs or information that can be used to look at, download, distribute, acquire or exchange pornography in general and infantile pornography in particular.

The state is supposed to provide the filters at no or low cost, and the Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones is placed in charge of Internet cafes to make sure the operators obey the law.

Carlos Avendaño Calvo spoke in favor of the measure in the legislature Monday. He belongs to the Partido Restauración Nacional. He said the law had teeth in that Internet cafe operators who violate the law can be fined from 220,000 colons ($443) to 1 million, about $2,014 at the current exchange rate. The proposal also said the place can be shut down.

Avendaño said that he expected the proposal to be approved in the second and final vote within a few days.

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