The Maduro regime dealt another blow to the press in Venezuela today, ordering the closure of the Venepress, an independent digital media outlet. The closure comes after attorney general Tarek William Saab accused the organization of money laundering, terrorism, and conspiracy.
The two images below, shared by a Venepress journalist, show regime officials at the outlet’s offices earlier today:
It is not clear what evidence, if any, attorney general Saab used to base his allegations against the organization.
NGO Releases Report Showing Effects of Digital Media Censorship
Last week, the Venezuelan chapter of the Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (Press and Society Institute, IPYS) released a report outlining some of the censorship that the country’s independent digital media outlets have suffered at the hands of the Maduro regime throughout 2019.
The report was compiled by a team of 57 journalist who, over a period of four days in October, attempted to access the same 25 websites a total of 628 times and logged how often they were able to do to. The experiment was conducted across 18 of the country’s states.
According to the report, the websites that the team attempted to access were blocked 33.1% of the time. Out of the three internet service provides tested, state-owned CANTV blocked the outlets the most, preventing access to the news platforms 37.1% of the time.
When broken down by website, the scope of the censorship is all the more striking. The report found that three websites in particular suffered near-total digital censorship:
- VivoPlay was blocked 96.5% of the time
- Infobae was blocked 96.5% of the time
- VPITv was blocked 95.4% of the time
- El Pitazo was blocked 81% of the time
- NTN24 was blocked 93.5% of the time
The report also found that the most common technique for blocking access to the outlets was DNS blocking, which a method through which an internet service provider can misdirect web traffic, making it difficult or impossible for a user to access a given website.
All of the websites that the report found to have been targeted by these blocking measures were either independent Venezuelan media outlets like Efecto Cocuyo, Armando.info and Caraota Digital, or international outlets that provide critical coverage of the Maduro regime, like the BBC or El Pais.
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