As soon as
we hear the phrase “content regulation”, the first thing that comes to mind is
a limitation on freedom of expression. Especially since the internet is a medium
which, given its nature, has been a difficult space to control; a space where
freedom of expression is protected, as Lawrence Lessig points out, by the
network’s very architecture.

this difficulty, web content may be subjected to regulation. Lessig himself considers
publication, access and distribution to be among regulation mechanisms. The first
has to do with content achieving credibility by virtue of publication, that is,
through the institutional medium that contains it. The second has to do with
the possibility of exclusion and allowing only certain people to view specific
content. And lastly, the third mechanism has to do with content’s access to distribution

Clearly, reasons
for regulating content depend on the cultural context within which regulation
occurs: what may be considered artistic expression in one place may be
considered illicit (or even malicious) in another socio-cultural context. Thus,
regulation that attempts to protect a human group by eliminating a certain type
of content might -- as a worst case scenario -- be forcing the disappearance of
a particular cultural expression. In spite of this risk -- or perhaps because
of it -- content regulation becomes necessary in order to protect human groups
considered vulnerable (such as women, children and youth), or to avoid
aggression against minority and excluded groups. The problem is, how to do it?

There are
various levels of prohibition applicable to illicit content. Prohibition on
content creation is applied to racist content or to that abetting terrorism, for
example, but there is another type of content, such as child pornography, where
not only its creation but also its use is prohibited.

there is a type of content whose indiscriminate distribution is prohibited, but
not its creation or use. The greatest problem is located within this last
content group (from a regulation standpoint) since it is the one which
constitutes something harmful enough to require control but not prohibition. It
is a grey area between freedom of expression and dissemination of harmful or
dangerous content. Here we will find subtle racist or xenophobic content, that
which denotes violence against women, boys, girls and the elderly, among

In this
realm, government intervention to regulate has not proven effective, much less
efficient. In Peru, Law 28.119 prohibits
child access to pornographic internet material. To this end, public
internet-access cabin (cybercentre) owners are obliged to install “special
filter and blocking software” or to implement “any other means which blocks the
viewing of designated pages.” The law requires municipalities to monitor its
enforcement, resulting in a set of
municipal ordinances
which establish capricious restrictions on access in
terms of space (a set of computers solely for minors) and time (restricted
hours), as if this would effectively ensure the goal is met.

addition, the law fails to address the issue of protecting children in their
own homes (or those of their friends). This prohibition is inadequate since the
home falls within the private realm. Due to this limitation, regulation must include
other instruments.

In fact
this is the same limitation behind the need to regulate content of mass media
such as radio and TV because they are considered “intrusive” of private spaces.

That is why
it would be worth examining how content regulation of television broadcasts evolved.
At first, they were subject to censorship committees, and in a significant
number of cases, they currently have systems for self-regulation, labelling and
content filters.

In Peru,
the National Association of Radio Announcers and the Peruvian Press Council
have established self-regulation councils, in pursuit of compliance with
principles such as legality, decency, truthfulness, and faithfulness, ensuring
the right of replication.

On the
consumers’ side, several civil society organisations have been promoting awards
to those who produce non-discriminatory content. Such is the case for Flora
Tristán who promotes the Premio Anual
(Annual Fem-TV Award),
dedicated to “advertising that best reflects the advance of women in society
and promotes more equitable relations between men and women.” Moreover, the Sapo-TV (Toad TV) anti-award, dedicated
to the most machista and sexist advertising, is also a proponent of this trend,
as is the “Cabina más segura” (“Most secure cabin”) prize, an initiative of the
social organisation, Acción por los Niños
en el 2006 (Action for Children 2006).

In the case
of television, Law 29.278 states that programming must be classified by the
station, so that it may or may not be broadcast during the children’s viewing

It is
possible to believe that the elements of effective internet content regulation begin with
classification or labelling of content and its sources, so that it is the
consumers themselves who share their opinions on the content, while establishing
their own consumer profiles. Initiatives such as the Internet Watch Foundation help consumers to report sites with
illegal content and to see that these sites are filtered by internet access
providers with services such as Cleanfeed, widely used in the United Kingdom
and Canada.

reflection should not conclude without recognising human capabilities
development as the other side of the coin, since the population becomes more
vulnerable to aggressive content precisely when it has fewer possibilities and
tools for defending its rights. From there stems the government responsibility
for promoting digital and informational literacy programmes, not just relating
to the use made of information and communication technologies, but also to
ensure that this use is productive and beneficial -- or at least not harmful --
to the population.

Responses to this post

I think Peru is giving great steps toward the erradication of gender discrimation in different media. Examples in the world can give us a trend, and international comunication is a vaulable key to keep aware in this matter.

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