Venezuela censors the net

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has decided that the best way to control his flagging popularity is to censor the world wide wibble.

Under a new law, passed by the Venezuelan parliament, any internet content that “promotes social unrest, challenges authority or condones crime will be banned.

According to AFP, Chavez’s ruling party pushed the law through in less than a week and it expands 2004 restrictions on content in radio, television and print media.

The new law makes webpage managers “responsible for the information and content” published on their websites.”

The law is meant to crack down on media content that “makes an apology of crime,” “promotes unrest in the population” or “challenges legally established authorities.”

Of course a remit like that is so wide that you could land a 747 on it, sideways and so it is basically a tool to shut down any site that Chavez does not like and to put the fear of God into website owners.

Webpage managers must now “establish mechanisms to restrict, without delay, the diffusion of messages… that are included in the ban.”

If they get into trouble they could lose up to “10 percent of the previous year’s gross income,” in addition to “72 hours of continuous suspension of services.”

Last week, Venezuela’s parliament gave President Chavez decree powers for 18 months, effectively turning South America’s biggest oil producer into a dictatorship. After 12 years in power and with flagging support, it seems that he wants to entrench his self-styled “revolution” which has done little to help his poor, rural support base.  We guess his supporters don’t use the net much.