Nicaragua: Telecom Company CLARO Censors Clients

Written by  Norman Garcia

This past November 29, some less-than-satisfied customers decided to start a blog complaining about the telecommunications company CLARO Nicaragua [1] [es], a subsidiary of América Móvil [2] consortium which belongs to the most wealthy man in the world, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helú. The blog is called Claro que NO! [3] [es], a play on words in Spanish meaning ‘of course not,’ and describes the bad service and worse treatment of customers by CLARO employees.

However in less than 3 days the company responded to this initiative by blocking the website [4] [es] hoping to impede dissatisfied clients from freely expressing themselves on the internet. Many users have manifested their objections toward this on blogs, Twitter and Facebook.

Blogger Juan Ortega was one of the first to write about this on his blog juanortega.info [5] [es]:

Esto claramente atenta no solo a la neutralidad de la red, sino que es una clara violación a nuestro derecho de libertad de expresión en cualquier medio, por lo que esperemos que Claro Nicaragua se pronuncie al respecto, y rectifique su error. Mientras tanto, invito a todos mis colegas blogueros, tumbleros, y demás, a que denuncien por cualquier vía lo que está sucediendo, en twitter pueden encontrar mas información, de igual forma se está siguiendo el caso con el hashtag #clarobloqueo.

This is clearly threatening not just net neutrality but is also an obvious violation of our freedom of speech on whatever medium. We hope that Claro Nicaragua acknowledges this and rectifies their error. Meanwhile, I invite all of my fellow bloggers, tumblr users, and others to decry this action through whatever means. On Twitter you can find more info, if you are not doing so already, follow the hashtag #clarobloqueo.
 

Also, blogger Adolfo Fitoria [7] [es] comments on the following:

Esto sienta un terrible precedente, en un futuro podrían bloquear a otras empresas competidoras, blogs independientes, alguna aplicación que no les convenga y a como ya hacen: limitar ancho de banda en cierto sitios como youtube.
No esperen ver nada de esto en los medios, no creo que publiquen algo al respecto ya que casi NUNCA critican a esta empresa, que es una de las que mas gasta en publicidad en el país, y los medios escritos que por esta época mueren no tienen otro palo donde ahorcarse.

This feels like a premonition of a terrible future where these companies will block access to competitor companies, independent blogs, some application that doesn’t suit them… like we see already where the bandwidth has been limited for some sites like YouTube.
Don’t expect to see any of this covered by the media. I don’t think they will publish something because they NEVER criticize this company, which is one of the companies that spends the most money on advertising in the country, and print media outlets are now dying and have no other means to survive.

Leandro Gómez on his blog comuNIdad [8] [es] continues with a similar thought:

Esta acción ilegal de parte de Claro Nicaragua puede representar el comienzo de una nueva era para los ciudadanos digitales en Nicaragua. Si esta empresa, una organización privada extranjera, no tiene el menor reparo en prohibirte visitar sitios que los critican abiertamente, el día de mañana podrían comenzar a bloquear otros sitios; por presiones políticas, por conveniencia económica, o porque simplemente les dió las ganas, y nosotros, los ciudadanos de este país no vamos a poder hacer absolutamente nada.

This illegal action on the part of Claro Nicaragua could represent the start of a new era for the digital citizens of Nicaragua. If this company, a private foreign enterprise, does not have the least reservation in denying access to openly critical sites, the day may come when they will start blocking other sites to exert political pressure, to improve their financials, or just for kicks… and we, the citizens of this country, will not be able to do a single thing in response.

The blogosphere has not been the only place to strongly reject CLARO’s heavy-handed measure; social networks like Twitter [9] (@CQN_Nicaragua) and Facebook [10] have been used to broadcast to others what is happening.

Nicaraguan bloggers united their voices to denounce the action on social networks and due to their persistence received a response from CLARO. The response which is less than convincing alleges that they didn’t block anything, rather the website’s server settings caused the problem. The website administrator for claroqueno.com responded by stating that at no point were there server settings to block incoming traffic from CLARO subscribers.

For their part, on December 13 the official Twitter account of @ClaroNicaragua [11] [es] maintained:

@evialejandrina [12] As we have already indicated to@nim_rod [13], we did not block that page. There’s no problem on our side.

Marketing director for CLARO Nicaragua published an article [14] [es] in the daily La Prensa that same day, citing the vandalism and defamation of companies that happens on social networks via fake, anonymous accounts. Even though the marketing director did not refer to the specific claroqueno.com situation, the article was very negatively received by Nicaragua’s netizens.

The independent blogger movement was the only group to denounce the act; traditional media did not publish anything on the censorship applied by CLARO Nicaragua.

On December 25, CLARO Nicaragua lifted the access block, once again allowing CLARO subscribers to visit the website. On Twitter, ClaroQueNo (@CQN_Nicaragua [15]) celebrated:

Ganamos! aparentemente @claronicaragua [16] al fín enmendó su error y levantaron el bloqueo. Por favor entren a http://claroqueno.com [17] y confirmen

We won! So apparently @claronicaragua [16] mended their ways at last and lifted the site block. Please visit http://claroqueno.com [17] and confirm!

In an article published [18] [es] in the paper El Nuevo Diario on Wednesday December 28 by journalist Oliver Gómez, CLARO Nicaragua recognized the block but alleged it had taken such action because of the defamation and lies about CLARO which were published on the website. The Corporate Communications Manager Azalia Salmerón said: “we respect the freedom of expresson but not defamation or licentious behavior.”

The group Claro que NO! celebrated its victory and has confirmed its continued commitment to working with dissatisfied users; its Twitter and Facebook page as well as its website continue to be active, receiving new complaints to publish.


Article printed from Global Voices: http://globalvoicesonline.org

URL to article: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2012/01/18/nicaragua-telecom-company-claro-censors-clients/