Ecuador’s Hired Guns Attempt to Silence Critics in the U.S.
You may have noticed that our videos on The Amazon Post are currently down. In late November, Ares Rights, a firm based in Spain that claims to be “devoted entirely to the defense of rights on the Internet,” filed copyright infringement claims against videos legitimately posted to YouTube by Chevron. Why is a Spanish firm interested in taking down videos on the Chevron case in Ecuador?
According to a report by Adam Steinbaugh, a specialist in Law and Technology, Ares Rights works on behalf of the government of Ecuador to censor negative messages and video content posted on the internet about the government. Clearly Ecuador’s censorship does not stop at the country’s border.
When material is placed on the internet that is perceived to be anti-government, Ares sends a letter to sites like YouTube, Google, Scribd and Vimeo claiming it affects copyrights of one of its clients in an attempt to get the material removed by the hosting site — even if their clients don’t own the copyrights to the materials, as in our case.
Surely Ecuador, the country that has recently worked to rebrand itself as the “home of internet freedom,” wouldn’t be interested in censoring our videos, would they?
This isn’t, however, an anomaly, rather a calculated strategy of filing meritless copyright infringement notices to quash free speech. Other documented instances of this internet censorship include filings made against:
- Diego Peñaherrera: A former presidential guard who posted a video about Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa.
- Pocho Alvarez: A documentarian who posted a video on anti-mining protests at Íntag.
- Emilio Palacio: A former editor at El Universo, who posted a video on Correa’s campaign against Chevron.
- Rosie Gray: A journalist who published documents on Scribd about Ecuador’s purchase of spy equipment.
- Pedro Granja: A lawyer who published a poster that featured a photo of Jorge Glas Viejo, the father of the Vice President.
Ecuadorian news outlet, El Comercio reported on these tactics in an Oct. 27 story titled: “Ares Rights purges from the Internet information that is annoying to the regime.” Another Ecuadorian press agency, El Universo ran a similar story on Dec. 9, 2013, titled: “Ares Rights, Fighting Piracy or Trying to Control the Internet?”
We’re working to reinstate the videos and those involved in and supporting the fraudulent case against Chevron will eventually learn that you may be momentarily successful in taking down a video, but ultimately you cannot silence the truth.