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UPDATE: 18 April 2016: AEPROVI has issued a statement with their position in relation to this case.
On 28 March 2014, users in Ecuador reported accessibility issues to Google and YouTube websites. The reason for the outage was not known at the time. Two years later, on 14 April 2016, a leaked document surfaced that explains those websites were systematically blocked.
According to a leaked internal memo of the multinational ISP Telefónica in Ecuador, the Association of Internet Providers of Ecuador (AEPROVI) collaborated with the Ecuadorian government to block their users’ access to some websites. The memo was obtained and published by the Associated Whistleblowing Press and the Ecuadorian whistleblowing platform, Ecuador Transparente.
It is important to know, a fact highlighted by the leaked document, that AEPROVI collectively controls more than 95% of internet traffic in Ecuador. And in February 2015, the government changed the law regulating telecommunications to pave the way for increasing censorship of online content. Article 8 of the Telecommunications Law allows the president of the Republic to decree a State of Emergency under vague standards and order content blocking without oversight by an independent and impartial court.
The government of Rafael Correa, in collaboration with the private sector, demonstrated its eventual technical ability and willingness to block and censor websites throughout the national territory during the outages in 2014. Furthermore, since no Emergency Decree was issued, the intentional intervention in access to Google and YouTube websites seems to be illegal.
Defenders of human rights and internet rights activists warn that the lack of transparency and the fact that internet governance is increasingly in the hands of the governments and corporations are worrying trends. Obscure agreements between governments and internet providers allow for internet censorship without transparency and due process, which puts users under threat and makes room for abuse of power. It is necessary to make the specific rules governing the collaboration between AEPROVI and the Ecuadorian government transparent and public.