Venezuela, one of the countries with the least amount of freedom in the world, now enjoys yet another dubious distinction: it is among the three nations with the worst internet connection in the entire world.
According to the Speedtest Global Index, the country, governed by Nicolás Maduro, was ranked 128th out of 130 countries, ahead of only Algeria (129) and Yemen (130). The study also reveals that Venezuela is the country with the worst internet connection in Latin America.
Only in October the global average download speed was 50.88 Mbps (Megabytes per second), and the average upload speed 25,52 Mbps; however, Venezuela had an average of 4.08 Mbps for download, and 1.71 Mbps for upload.
And recently, Freedom House’s annual report on internet freedom in 2018 concluded that Cuba and Venezuela continue to lead the list of the least free nations in the region.
The regime of Nicolás Maduro was identified as one of the regimes that has done the most to limit the freedom of its citizens in recent years, while the government of Cuban Miguel Diaz-Canel was defined as the least free on the continent.
The Institute of Press and Society (Ipys) noted that “the conditions of Venezuelan citizens are precarious, because they exercise their freedom online in the worst digital ecosystem in Latin America, in terms of quality of access to internet.”
In this study, the data obtained by the Measurement Lab (MLAB), between January and February of 2018, also reflects the abysmal state of Venezuela in terms of connectivity. The study put Venezuela in last place in an analysis of ten countries, with even Bolivia (1.78 Mbps) and Suriname (2.42mbps) faring better.
The data proved that navigation in Venezuela was ten times slower than that of Costa Rica, and was below the quality of service offered by regional peers such as Panama, Peru, Guyana, Colombia, and Ecuador.
More than 2,500 blocked pages
To date in Venezuela there are more than 2,500 pages that the Nicolás Maduro regime is blocking: these are internet sites to which Venezuelans have restrictions and limitations for entering.
In 2011 the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) declared access to the internet as a human right in the world, which is why the deprivation thereof, could subject a nation to international penal sanctions.
In Venezuela it is also a constitutional right to inform and be informed, as established by the Constitution, in Article 58, which states that the state must ensure timely access to information for all citizens: “Communication is free and plural, and involves the duties and responsibilities indicated by law. Everyone has the right to timely, truthful, and impartial information, without censorship, in accordance with the principles of this Constitution.”
However, Venezuela is one of the countries that has most restricted freedoms on the internet during the last five years.
In its annual report on online freedom, the NGO Freedom House reported that the government of President Nicolás Maduro blocks websites that are critical of him, subjects journalists to arbitrary detention, and is trying to pass a new law that punishes, with up to 20 years in prison, the spread of so-called “hate speech” on social media.
“The internet censorship has resulted in a policy of control and regulation of information, despite the fact that international human rights bodies classify this as an extreme measure that should only be applied in exceptional situations and through a rigorous and transparent process of evaluation and notification,” said IPYS Venezuela in its investigation.
Google seeks to combat censorship in Venezuela
Because Venezuela is one of the countries with the highest internet censorship in the world, Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has developed an application to fight the web censorship in the South American country.
This is the Intra application, which was designed to combat the manipulation of the domain name system.
A study published last year by the Association of Advanced Computing Systems Usenix found that more than 60 countries around the world exert some type of censorship on the Internet through DNS manipulation, including Venezuela, China, Turkey, and Iran.
“Many of our contacts in Venezuela, from activists to political organizations and journalists, have alerted us that they could not access some important media pages,” Jigsaw’s external services chief Dan Keyserling told EFE.
Jigsaw detected an “increase” of censorship through DNS in the Latin American country, and decided to use it as a testing ground for Intra before its global launch.
According to a study published in August by the Open Interference Observatory on the Internet, among the websites blocked by DNS manipulation in Venezuela are the websites El Pitazo and El Nacional.
In addition, the mobile application Zello, which works like a walkie-talkie and is used on a regular basis by those who have organized protests against the government led by Nicolás Maduro, has also suffered several DNS manipulation attacks.