Argentina

Argentina

Free
72
100
A Obstacles to Access 19 25
B Limits on Content 26 35
C Violations of User Rights 27 40
Last Year's Score & Status
72 100 Free

Overview

Argentina’s internet environment remained free in 2018, as users generally experience unfettered access to online content and high engagement on social media. However, concerns about online manipulation resurfaced ahead of presidential elections in October 2019, resulting in coordinated efforts to prevent the spread of disinformation among political parties, media associations, and social media platforms. While Argentina does not suffer from high levels of violence against journalists, harassment campaigns against journalists and human rights activists can have a chilling effect.

Argentina is a representative democracy with lively media and civil society sectors. Mauricio Macri came to power in 2015 promising sweeping social and economic reforms following more than a decade of administrations under Néstor Kirchner (2003-2007) and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (2007-2015). However, social polarization and anti-government protests have grown amid high inflation and public spending cuts.

Key Developments

June 1, 2018 – May 31, 2019

  • Argentina’s anti-trust regulator approved the mega-merger between Telecom Argentina and Grupo Clarín’s cable TV provider Cablevisión, creating the largest telecommunications player in the country (see A4).

  • Ahead of general elections in October 2019, Argentina’s electoral council announced a series of measures to address disinformation and other manipulation techniques online, including publishing a register of candidates’ social media accounts and official websites (see B5). 

  • Argentina’s Congress debated legislation aiming to protect intermediaries from liability for content published by third parties, unless they fail to comply with a court order. Despite support from digital rights groups, the bill failed to advance in 2018 (see B3).

  • After visiting Argentina in May 2019, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy expressed concerns about safeguards for surveillance and recommended the creation of an independent oversight body (see C5).

A Obstacles to Access

Access to the internet has increased consistently in Argentina over the past decade, though a series of recent price increases have made certain mobile internet plans more expensive. During the coverage period, the government announced plans to promote internet development in municipalities and small and medium-sized cities. However, in 2018 Argentina’s anti-trust regulator created the largest telecommunications player in the country by approving the mega-merger between Telecom Argentina and Grupo Clarín’s cable TV provider Cablevisión.

A1 0-6 pts
Do infrastructural limitations restrict access to the internet or the speed and quality of internet connections? 56

Argentina’s internet penetration rate is among the highest in Latin America, above 75 percent.1 In the third quarter of 2018, there were 7.4 million fixed internet subscriptions, a 3.2 percent increase compared to the previous year.2

Mobile internet users are also on the rise, counting more than 31.3 million subscriptions by the third quarter of 2018, a 1.6 percent increase compared to 2017. The number of residential mobile internet subscriptions grew by 1.5 percent and reached over 28 million.3 However, figures show a decrease in the national mobile penetration rate between 2017 and 2018, from 141 to 133 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants,4 a fall that was confirmed by private sector reports and attributed to the country’s economic situation.5 Given the high inflation rate (consumer price inflation reached 47 percent in 2018)6 there has also been an increase in prepaid phone plans.7

Measurements of internet speed in Argentina vary, but a range of sources show that the country lags behind global averages and is slower than many other Latin American countries.8 The Argentine Internet Chamber recorded average fixed internet speeds of 13.1MB by mid-2018, but only 43.3 percent of connections exceeded 10MB and 40.7 percent fell between 1MB and 6MB. The capital of Buenos Aires reached speeds of 17.8MB, while at the opposite extreme, provinces such as La Pampa (4MB) and Santa Cruz (5.2MB) have the lowest average speeds in Argentina.9

According to 2018 data from the telecommunications regulator, fiber optic connections represent only 3 percent of the total fixed internet connections in the country. The Argentine telecoms association CABASE is promoting investment in Fiber Optic Home (FTTH) networks, and its members are already implementing FTTH projects in more than 200 localities in the country.10

In October 2018, President Mauricio Macri announced a National Plan of Telecommunications and Connectivity, with a new schedule to deploy 4G in 2,790 municipalities by the end of 2019. The government also announced financing for internet development in small and medium-sized cities, and price cuts for wholesale internet services marketed by the state-owned infrastructure operator ARSAT.11

A2 0-3 pts
Is access to the internet prohibitively expensive or beyond the reach of certain segments of the population for geographical, social, or other reasons? 23

Given high inflation rates, internet subscriptions are relatively expensive in Argentina, which may present a barrier especially for those with lower incomes. According to CABASE, broadband prices are a high economic burden for some 11 percent of Argentine households, as the price of broadband exceeds 5 percent of the monthly income.1

Argentina’s main service providers have raised the cost of mobile plans. In March 2019, the largest mobile providers Movistar, Claro, and Personal introduced further price hikes between 15 percent and 18 percent for fixed and mobile prepaid and postpaid services.2 According to the Argentine Internet Observatory (OIA), fixed internet prices can vary greatly: the minimum tariff for 1Mbps was 2.70 pesos ($0.06) and the maximum was 1,000 pesos ($22).3

Geographic and socioeconomic differences in internet penetration persist: fixed internet subscriptions reach over 60 percent of households in provinces such as La Pampa, Buenos Aires, and Córdoba, whereas others such as San Luis, Jujuy and Formosa are closer to 20 percent.4

Government initiatives have sought to promote digital inclusion and education, although investment in such initiatives dropped in 2018 and 2019. 5 The “national digital education plan” provided training in digital literacy and digital skills to some 100,000 people in more than 100 cities by mid-2018.6 A new program called “Aprender Conectados” also promotes coding laboratories and robotics kits for schoolchildren.7

While Law 27,078 protects net neutrality,8 practices such as zero-rating are used by cell phone companies that offer free access to mobile applications like WhatsApp.9 Following the mega-merger between Telecom and Cablevisión,10 zero-rated access offers were available to customers of Personal (mobile phone service) and Cablevisión Flow (over the top service) to watch the final match of the Copa Libertadores.11

A3 0-6 pts
Does the government exercise technical or legal control over internet infrastructure for the purposes of restricting connectivity? 66

The Argentine government does not exercise control over telecommunications infrastructure. There have been no reported instances of the government cutting off internet connectivity during protests or social unrest.

Argentina has 30 functioning Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), which help to manage internet traffic efficiently.1 IXPs are strategically distributed in major cities across the country.2

A4 0-6 pts
Are there legal, regulatory, or economic obstacles that restrict the diversity of service providers? 46

Argentina boasts one of the largest number of providers in the region after Brazil.1 However, the Argentine broadband market remains dominated by a handful of companies: Telefónica, Telecom Argentina, and Cablevisión.2 The mobile sector reflects a similar concentration under market leaders Movistar (Telefónica), Claro (América Móvil) and Personal (Telecom Argentina).3

A mega-merger between Telecom Argentina and cable TV provider Cablevisión was completed by mid-2018,4 resulting in the largest telecommunications and media group in Argentina.5 Mobile service provider Personal (part of Cablevisión-Telecom), has seen an increase in its market share since the merger, boosted by an array of promotions, packages, advertising and the largest fiber-optic network in the country.6 Competitors and experts have raised concerns about this merger’s impact on pluralism, diversity and competition.7

Macri’s government has issued a series of decrees and resolutions to significantly reform the telecommunications and media sector with an emphasis on convergence and competition. However, critics have contended that these moves encourage greater market concentration.8 Decree 267 issued in December 2015 notably released cable providers from obligations in the Broadcasting Law. Decree 1340 issued in December 2016 allowed telecommunications companies to offer cable TV as well as internet and phone services beginning in January 2018.9 In 2018, ENACOM approved rules enabling companies to offer “quadruple play” (covering fixed and mobile telephone service, pay TV and internet).10

Pending legislation referred to as ley corta (“short law”) would allow ICT companies to provide satellite TV services, seen as a way to promote more competition in light of the Cablevisión-Telecom merger.11 Meanwhile, a decree issued in January 2019 authorized ENACOM to manage and auction spectrum held by the state-run company ARSAT. Accordingly, at least 20 percent of the frequencies must go to regional and local operators.12

With a new resolution in 2017, the government has pushed for a more “flexible and objective” ICT licensing regime.13 The process to obtain an ISP license can be done online with a payment fee of 20,000 pesos ($450).14

A5 0-4 pts
Do national regulatory bodies that oversee service providers and digital technology fail to operate in a free, fair, and independent manner? 24

The main telecommunications regulator, the National Authority for Communications (ENACOM), was created by presidential decree in December 2015,1 later validated by Congress in April 2016.2

The body’s composition has raised some concerns about possible executive influence. ENACOM operates within the Secretariat of Modernization and has a board comprised of four directors chosen by the president and three proposed by Congress. ENACOM’s decisions can be approved by a simple majority and its members may be removed by the president.3 The ICT policymaker is the Secretariat of Modernization, after the government dissolved the Communications Ministry and subsequently downgraded the Ministry of Modernization.4

The executive body NIC.ar regulates and registers all websites with the “.ar” top level domain name. Since 2015, registration of any domain ending in “.ar” requires an annual fee between 110 and 270 pesos ($2 and $6).5

B Limits on Content

Individuals and companies have continued to pursue cases against search engines and online newspapers in order to have content removed. Though Congress debated legislation that would protect intermediaries from content published by third parties unless they fail to comply with a court order, the bill failed to advance. Ahead of general elections in October 2019, the country’s electoral council announced a series of measures to address disinformation and other manipulation techniques online.

B1 0-6 pts
Does the state block or filter, or compel service providers to block or filter, internet content? 56

Users in Argentina have access to a wide array of online content. Nevertheless, courts have the power to order website blocks, and have done so to protect copyright and limit access to unauthorized gambling sites based on different provincial regulations.1 Law 25.690 also requires ISPs to provide software that can allow users to choose to limit their own access to “specific websites.”2

Courts have made controversial decisions in recent years to try to block the transportation mobile app Uber since its arrival in Buenos Aires, finding it was not in compliance with the legal framework for public transportation services.3 As part of a dispute dating back to 2016, in February 2018 a court in Buenos Aires issued an order to block access to the Uber app and website nationwide, though providers stated that blocking the app was technically difficult to implement.4 In June 2018, the Superior Court of Justice of the City of Buenos Aires overturned the decision, arguing that such a measure disproportionately affects freedom of expression and access to information.5 According to the fact-checking organization Chequeado, the block on Uber’s website was implemented and lifted several times, but the app remained online.6

Courts have also blocked websites to protect copyright in the past.7 In November 2018, a court ordered the website Cuevana2 to be blocked, as well as domain names associated with Cuevana, for violating copyright provisions (Law 11.723, art. 79).8 Created in 2011, the widely popular site had been embroiled in judicial problems for streaming copyright protected materials as well as independent films.

B2 0-4 pts
Do state or nonstate actors employ legal, administrative, or other means to force publishers, content hosts, or digital platforms to delete content? 24

Courts continue to consider lawsuits from individuals requesting that search engines and platforms take down certain material. Judges have ordered search engines and social networks to remove content based on the right to honor and privacy, which is guaranteed under Civil Code (art. 52) and allows Argentinian citizens to prevent or repair any damage to their reputation.

Press freedom groups such as Inter American Press Association and Association of Argentine Journalism Entities (ADEPA) have raised concerns about attempts by individuals and companies to seek the removal of content from both search engines and online newspapers.1 Recent cases included news stories related to patients’ complaints against a plastic surgeon’s alleged malpractice, and another regarding the prosecution against a provincial legislator for possession of marijuana, a case that was later dismissed. According to ADEPA, some of the outlets involved offered to include a link to the judicial measures to clarify the outcomes of the cases, but did not remove the original articles.2 In January 2019, a judge in the northern province of Salta ordered two digital outlets, Aerom and Ver Noticias, to both remove and also stop publishing “aggravating, disrespectful and injurious” content about the Mayor of the city of Salta and two collaborators.3

A new data protection bill presented in 2017 establishes an individual’s right to erase personal data when it is no longer necessary for its original purpose, or when there is no public purpose. The draft, which included some exceptions to protect freedom of expression, was submitted to Congress in September 2018.4

B3 0-4 pts
Do restrictions on the internet and digital content lack transparency, proportionality to the stated aims, or an independent appeals process? 34

ENACOM publishes an online repository of websites that have been blocked and/or re-instated after judicial court orders.1 However, the tool does not specify the rules or criteria behind these decisions. The vast majority of website blocks concern online gambling (over 50 cases in 2018 and first quarter of 2019), which is regulated differently in each province.

Recent court decisions have established takedown criteria to avoid potential abuse of generic injunctions to restrict freedom of expression.2 A landmark ruling by the Argentine Supreme Court in 2014 confirmed that intermediaries should not be liable for third-party content if they did not have knowledge of alleged third-party violations.3 It established that intermediaries must remove unlawful content only if they are notified by a judicial order, thus favoring a judicial takedown regime over a “notice-and-takedown” system. On the other hand, however, the court stated that if the content involves “manifest illegality,” a private notification to the intermediary is sufficient. A recent court ruling by the Supreme Court in September 2017 reaffirmed these standards in the “Gimbutas vs Google” case.4

However, a bill that established that in all cases a judicial order was necessary to remove online content was dropped in late 2018. Arguments against the bill had noted the difficulty for the judiciary to address requests in a timely way and the vagueness of “self-regulation mechanisms” contained in Article 7.5 Another set of arguments was related with copyright and the lack of enforcement and instruments provided in the bill.6

Other legislative initiatives proposed in 2018 raised some concerns for encouraging censorship by online platforms and services. According to one proposal yet to be discussed by legislators entitled “Protection of Freedom of Expression, Privacy and Honor,” intermediaries are not held liable for third party content, as long as the authors of the content are clearly identifiable, and as long as the intermediaries can demonstrate that they were not aware of the illegal nature of the content.7 Another proposal, the draft “Regulation of the Open Internet,” instructs online providers to implement a system for rating audiovisual content according to audience ages, in order to provide mechanisms for parental control.8

B4 0-4 pts
Do online journalists, commentators, and ordinary users practice self-censorship? 34

Self-censorship among bloggers and internet users is not widespread in Argentina, although some isolated instances of harassment might elicit self-censorship in particular cases. Aggressive and hateful commentary surrounding sensitive debates online, such as the abortion bill discussed in Congress in August 2018, may have chilling effects on some social media users.1

Some 53 percent of journalists interviewed by the Forum for Argentine Journalism (FOPEA) in 2014 said that there was self-censorship in the workspace. Sensitive topics included the national government, trafficking of persons, and drug trafficking.

B5 0-4 pts
Are online sources of information controlled or manipulated by the government or other powerful actors to advance a particular political interest? 34

Research has pointed to organized digital campaigning being conducted with a political motive.1 There have been repeated episodes of seemingly organized digital behavior through bots, trolls and personal accounts, mainly on Twitter.2

Ahead of the general elections in October 2019, Argentina’s election commission announced a series of measures to address disinformation and other manipulation techniques on social media, including requesting candidates to register their social media accounts and official websites, and to share information about audiovisual campaign materials that they plan to share online. The commission would also monitor manipulation efforts during the election campaign period.3 In May 2019, the election commission got political parties and social media companies to adhere to an “ethical digital commitment” seeking to prevent the spread of disinformation during the campaign.4

A report by Amnesty International documented coordinated Twitter activity targeting several journalists and human rights activists between October and November 2017. Although there is no substantial evidence that these “cyber troops” are the work of the government, such campaigns can promote chilling effects for critical journalists and human rights defenders.5 In October 2018, the Inter-American Press Society noted a significant increase in the number of journalists targeted and systematic campaigns of defamation on social networks in Argentina.6

In March 2018, the election commission announced an investigation to determine whether Cambridge Analytica had worked on Macri’s presidential campaign in 2015. The government denied its involvement with the data analytics firm.7 However, a UK parliamentary committee looking at the influence of Cambridge Analytica's parent company SCL Elections in foreign elections cited “confidential evidence” related to an anti-Kirchner campaign in Argentina, including the creation of false social media accounts.8

B6 0-3 pts
Are there economic or regulatory constraints that negatively affect users’ ability to publish content online? 23

The government has taken some steps to correct the discriminatory allocation of official advertising, which has played a major role in shaping media content both at the federal and local levels.1 While Macri’s government has reduced expenditure on advertising,2 large amounts are still invested in outlets and stations that produce friendly coverage.3 Published figures show that the government-friendly media conglomerate Clarín Group received some 388 million pesos ($8.7 million) from Macri’s government in 2018, and accumulated approximately 20 percent of government advertising investment since Macri took office.4 Moreover, 60 percent of the total investment in official advertisement is concentrated in Buenos Aires.5

In April 2019, the Senate approved a new law regulating the financing of political campaigns.6 It notably mandates that 60 percent of public resources for political party digital advertising must be allocated to digital news sites that generate content, 35 percent to outlets providing national coverage, and 25 percent to provincial outlets focusing on local content. This responds to media associations’ demands to compensate for losses due to the migration of advertising to search engines and social networks.7

In 2019, a bill was sent to Congress for the creation of an “applicable legal regime for the use of digital applications (apps) and websites” establishing a national registry that will control these under regulator ENACOM. The proposal would require apps and websites providing services to register on a national database; an initiative that has raised concerns for its chilling effects on web platforms and innovation more generally. 8 Moreover, there is a lack of clarity around what websites would come under this proposal.

B7 0-4 pts
Does the online information landscape lack diversity? 34

Argentina has an open and diverse online media environment, as well as high rates of social media use that allow people to access and produce different content. Argentina ranks globally as the country with the fifth highest proportion of social media users (above 70 percent).1 Its digital ecosystem is populated with initiatives and content that reflect different groups’ rights, including indigenous,2 LGBT3, feminist,4 and religious.5

On the other hand, media ownership in Argentina is highly concentrated, which may in turn affect the diversity of news in the market.6 The Media Ownership Monitor report produced by Reporters Without Borders notes how Macri’s government has made significant changes in the media landscape, marked by deregulation policies, closure of media outlets, greater concentration of large players, and greater job insecurity.7 Of the six main digital media with the largest audience analyzed as part of this research, four belonged to Grupo Clarín.8

B8 0-6 pts
Do conditions impede users’ ability to mobilize, form communities, and campaign, particularly on political and social issues? 56

Argentinians continue to use social media as a tool for political mobilization. Digital activism has played a crucial role in rallying protests to advocate for concrete action to reduce violence against women.1 The hashtag #NiUnaMenos (Not One Less) went viral on social media in June 2015 during a march,2 and continued to be one of the most tweeted hashtags in 2018.3 The hashtag #abortolegal (legal abortion) was widely used in 2018, given discussions of a bill that decriminalized abortion in Argentina, but which was rejected by senators in August.

  • 1. “Argentine marches condemn domestic violence,” BBC, June, 2015, http://bbc.in/1SXuUoa; “Histórica marcha contra la violencia machista” [Historic march against gender violence], Clarín, June, 2015, http://clar.in/1KB2azu
  • 2. “Del mundo online a la marcha: el mapa con las repercusiones de #NiUnaMenos en Twitter” [From the online world to the march: the map with the impact of #NiUnaMenoson Twitter], La Nación, June 2015, http://bit.ly/1Jayd8P
  • 3. “Resumen 2017: lo más relevante del año en Twitter” [Summary 2017: the most relevant of the year on Twitter], TodoNoticias, December 5, 2017, http://bit.ly/2GJT3ON

C Violations of User Rights

Argentina does not suffer from high levels of violence against journalists and only one person was prosecuted during the coverage period for their online activity. In May 2019, the United Nations Special Rapporteur noted there were insufficient safeguards for surveillance, recommending that an independent oversight body be established. Cyberattacks against digital media outlets were not frequently reported over the last year, though companies and government entities were targeted.

C1 0-6 pts
Do the constitution or other laws fail to protect rights such as freedom of expression, access to information, and press freedom, including on the internet, and are they enforced by a judiciary that lacks independence? 46

Freedom of expression is guaranteed by the National Constitution.1 Argentina explicitly established online freedom of expression protections through a presidential decree issued in 1997.2 These were expanded by Congress in 2005 to include “the search, reception and dissemination of ideas and information of all kinds via internet services.”3 Defamatory statements regarding matters of public interest were decriminalized in 2009,4 following the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ ruling in “Kimel vs. Argentina.”5

Argentina’s judicial system has long been plagued by inefficiencies and accusations of politicization. In 2019, civil rights groups denounced a decision to investigate a federal judge who was looking into allegations of illegal surveillance operations and extortion, with potential links to government allies.6 Meanwhile, press freedom groups raised the alarm when several journalists were named in the judge’s investigation, decrying a judicial attempt to “criminalize interviews and professional secrecy.”7

C2 0-4 pts
Are there laws that assign criminal penalties or civil liability for online activities? 24

Some laws impose criminal and civil liability for online activities. Law 11.723 holds liable those who reproduce content that violates intellectual property by any means, and establishes sanctions ranging from fines to six years in prison. In November 2013, Congress approved a law amending the penal code and establishing penalties of up to four years imprisonment for online contact with a minor carried out “with the purpose of committing a crime against [the minor’s] sexual integrity.”1

A 2008 law on cybercrime amended the Argentine Criminal Code to prohibit distribution and possession of child pornography online, interception of communications and informatics systems, hacking, and electronic fraud. Some of the terms used in the legislation have been criticized as too ambiguous, which could lead to overly broad interpretation.2

Other bills that could be used to punish certain forms of online speech were still pending approval:

  • New legislative projects emerged in 2018 that propose to reform the Criminal Code to penalize identity theft online.3 One presented in June 2018 (3868-D-2018) proposes to criminalize digital theft with prison sentences of up to four years if the activity was sustained over a long period of time.4 While it exempts parody accounts, the provision refers to parody accounts that are “clearly identifiable for that purpose.” Similar bills were proposed on the issue in 2018 but were pending discussion.5
  • The preliminary draft to reform the Penal Code would criminalize the dissemination of non-consensual intimate images, providing prison sentences of six months to two years, or a fine.6

C3 0-6 pts
Are individuals penalized for online activities? 56

Internet users do not generally face politically-motivated arrests or prosecutions for online speech. There have been cases of prosecution related with online dissemination of content that is considered illegal, inciting to violence or hatred among citizens. While cases remain rare, in February 2018 media reported on a decision against a user for slandering and insulting another user via social networks. A court in Buenos Aires sanctioned the accused woman with 150 hours of community service.1

C4 0-4 pts
Does the government place restrictions on anonymous communication or encryption? 24

The Argentine government does not impose restrictions on anonymity or encryption for internet users. Bloggers and internet users are not required to register with the government and can post anonymous comments freely in online forums. A 2018 bill regarding online identity proposed to make platforms responsible for the authentication of users’ identity. Accounts would either be marked as “verified” or “unverified.”1

Telecom operators must register users’ identification information before selling them a mobile phones or prepaid SIM cards.2 A resolution signed in October 2016 established a database of personal information, requiring ENACOM to adopt measures to identify all mobile communications users in a national registry.3 Mobile operators must store the information in a safe and auditable manner, and supply information on request to members of the judiciary or public prosecutors. It does not state how long the information must be stored.

In July 2016, the National Directorate for the Registry of Internet Domain Names launched a new regulation for the administration of domain names.4 In order to register, transfer, or cancel a domain, individuals must apply for a “tax password” (Clave Fiscal) by providing the Federal Administration of Public Revenues (AFIP) with fingerprints, a facial photo, and their signature. AFIP assured local media that “it will not have information on the administration of domains and NIC Argentina will not have tax information either. The processes are independent.”5

C5 0-6 pts
Does state surveillance of internet activities infringe on users’ right to privacy? 46

In general, Argentina has strong privacy standards rooted in the constitution. The National Directorate for Protection of Personal Data (DNPDP) presented a draft bill to reform the Data Protection Law in 2017, following a series of consultations.1 A bill was finally submitted to Congress in September 2018.2 The DNPDP has issued legal requirements and privacy recommendations on a range of issues in the past, including video surveillance footage,3 the development of digital applications,4 and use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones.5

In July 2016, an administrative resolution authorized the transfer of personal information of Argentinian citizens contained in the databases of the social security authority (ANSES), such as name, ID number, telephone number, and email address, to the Public Communication Secretary.6 Civil society organizations questioned the use of such data by the agency, which manages communication strategy for official activities.7 The decision was validated by the data protection authority;8 opposition party legislators challenged the resolution but their claim was rejected.9 However, in September 2018 a court, citing the Data Protection Law, ruled that ANSES could not share a woman’s phone number and email address for the Publication Communication Secretary’s database without the woman’s consent.10

Covert or unlawful surveillance does not seem to be widespread, although some sectors in Argentina have attempted to spy on internet users in the past. Government agencies do not systematically collect or access internet users’ metadata directly, but they may request it from service providers with a warrant.11 Interception of private communications requires judicial authorization.12 In May 2019, the UN Special Rapporteur for Privacy conducted a mission to Argentina to assess the country’s privacy standards. His preliminary statement noted that Argentina does not appear to have advanced technical capabilities to carry out surveillance. However, he deemed that levels of oversight by the Bicameral Commission on Intelligence were insufficient and recommended the creation of a new independent oversight body.13

Under Macri’s government, the entity in charge of interceptions of communications was transferred from the Public Ministry to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court established an office of Capturing of Communications (Oficina de Captación de Comunicaciones, OCC), within the Directorate of Judicial Assistance in Complex and Organized Crimes.14 Digital rights groups have raised concerns about the office’s lack of institutional autonomy within a directorate dedicated to criminal investigations.15

Proposed amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code drafted in late 2016 sought to broaden government surveillance powers by introducing “special measures of investigation,” including remote surveillance of computer equipment, and surveillance through image capturing, localization, and monitoring. However, following heavy opposition and concerns raised by digital rights groups, these measures were omitted from the version that was finally approved in December 2018.16

C6 0-6 pts
Are service providers and other technology companies required to aid the government in monitoring the communications of their users? 46

Argentina’s controversial 2003 data retention legislation was annulled after the Supreme Court found it unconstitutional. The Supreme Court reconfirmed this decision in 2009, stating that the data retention law was a “drastic interference with the private sphere of the individual."1

A 2013 resolution by the Communications Secretariat of the Ministry of Federal Planning introduced data retention requirements for the purpose of assessing the quality of services, requiring providers to store data related to quality indicators for three years. It states that providers should guarantee the telecommunications regulator “free access” to installations, and should provide “all the information that is required in the set manner and timeframe.”2 There has been no evidence to suggest that this provision was implemented in an unlawful or abusive way.

C7 0-5 pts
Are individuals subject to extralegal intimidation or physical violence by state authorities or any other actor in retribution for their online activities? 45

Violence in reprisal for digital activities is rare, though journalists are subject to intimidation, including those who work online. Journalists and activists have also faced harassment and smear campaigns on social media. The Argentine Forum of Journalism (FOPEA) reported 51 cases of harassment against journalists in 2018, an improvement from 2017 when it registered 132 cases.1 Nearly one third of these occurred in the city of Buenos Aires, the rest in the provinces. One of these cases targeted a woman journalist.

C8 0-3 pts
Are websites, governmental and private entities, service providers, or individual users subject to widespread hacking and other forms of cyberattack? 23
 

While digital media outlets have suffered technical attacks, incidents were not frequently reported during the past year.1

Argentina has seen an increase in reported cybersecurity incidents targeting companies and government entities.2 A day after holding primary elections on August 12, 2019, hackers leaked troves of sensitive data belonging to the government, and momentarily took over the Argentine Naval Prefecture’s Twitter account to disseminate disinformation and links to the leaked information.3 In December 2018, the government confirmed that cyberattacks were directed against the security ministry, national gendarmerie, naval prefecture, and Airport Security Police earlier that year.4

Government agencies have sought to strengthen their cybersecurity capacity. In January 2016, the president created the post of Undersecretary of Technology and Cyber Security under the Ministry of Modernization, in charge of developing the strategy for technological infrastructure, as well as a national cybersecurity agenda.5 In January 2017, the City of Buenos Aires launched its first computer security incident response team, focused on advising and raising citizens’ awareness on cybersecurity issues.6

Country Facts

  • Freedom in the World Status

    Free
  • Networks Restricted

    No
  • Websites Blocked

    No
  • Pro-government Commentators

    No
  • Users Arrested

    No

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