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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Concern grows that new law designed to combat online harassment will be used against journalists

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Activists protest the passing of new law which could be used to prosecute journalists. Photo: Mario Guzman

Mexico’s legislature recently passed a law allowing individuals to take legal action against online bullying or stalking. 

Though the intention of the law is to protect citizens from malicious online attacks, its wording has stirred concern among journalists and activists.

The legislation has been described by activists, including members of environmental and LGBT collectives, as a “double-edged sword.”

This is because the law would make it possible for politicians who dislike what they perceive to be unfair criticism to go after journalists, activists, or even average social media commenters. 

“This law is clearly positive at first glance, but its powers are far to broad. It is very important that its language be amended to protect free speech,” according to a press statement by the human rights organization Kanan Yucatán. 

The new law is particularly concerning for journalists who have been under increasing pressure from the federal government to get with the program. 

Earlier: Man arrested in Yucatán’s 1st revenge porn case

Over the past week, three journalists have been murdered in as many days, bringing the total of slain journalists during this year to nine. 

“Mexico is among the most dangerous countries on the planet to exercise journalism as a profession,” according to a 2021 report published by Reporters Without Borders.

Mexico’s government itself has on several occasions gone out of its way to call into question the motivations of journalists and even suggests that they are traitors. 

This problematic state of affairs has only increased with President López Obrador’s very public attacks on journalists and public figures such as Carlos Loret de Mola and Carmen Aristegui.

“Before he was in office AMLO applauded our critiques of government policy. Now that he is the federal government, he sure has changed his tune and gone as far to call us traitors,” said Arisegui.

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