Defending freedom of speech online in Chile

The meme #FreeRod was used in a social media campaign to build support for Ferrari's cause. Image: Super45.The meme #FreeRod was used in a social media campaign to build support for Ferrari’s cause. Image: Super45.In early 2013, Rodrigo Ferrari was formally charged with the crime of identity theft as the author of parody Twitter accounts that mocked the family of Andronico Luksic, one of the wealthiest people in Chile, who filed the lawsuit.

NGO Derechos Digitales, which has been working since 2005 to strengthen human rights in the digital environment, decided to support Ferrari’s legal defence because the case represented a real threat to freedom of speech.

The legal and communications strategy focused on proving that the accounts in question were obviously a form of political parody; a healthy democratic system must protect and not punish the expression of critical discourses.

Following wide local media coverage, in April 2013 the court announced the dismissal of all charges against Ferrari, emphasising that the Twitter accounts were merely legitimate parody, endorsing many of Derechos Digitales’ arguments, and setting a new precedent in the protection of freedom of expression online.

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