Restrictions on Internet to be considered

Control by governments of the Internet and the use of legal mechanisms to restrict press freedom will be two issues to be looked into by panel discussions that the Inter American Press Association has organized within the framework of its midyear meeting, to be held in Panama City, Panama, Friday through Monday.

As part of the half-yearly, country-by-country review of the state of freedom of the press during the Saturday session, which is open to the public, the organization has scheduled a panel discussion where cases of how some governments use the Internet to control and spy on members of the public and opponents will be presented.

The session will be chaired by Jane Kirtley, University of Minnesota media ethics and law professor, and by the executive director of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, Joel Simon.

That same day there will be a roundtable discussion on the application by some countries in the Western Hemisphere of regulations that restrict the fundamental right to freedom of expression and of the press. Those taking part will provide details of the governments’ arguments explaining the legal restrictions and their effects on democracy.

The regional vice chairmen of the association’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information for Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Uruguay and Venezuela will speak on this issue from their own experiences in news media in their countries. Journalist Adrián Ventura, of the Buenos Aires, Argentina, newspaper La Nación, will head the panel discussion.

The IAPA will continue on Sunday, March 8 and Monday, March 9, its review of the most relevant issues in the last six months regarding press freedom. The half-yearly meeting to be held at Panama City’s Hilton Hotel will bring together hundreds of newspaper executives, publishers, editors and reporters from throughout the region.

There will also be a series of technical seminars on matters of interest to the press and the news media.

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