May 19 2022 GM

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Glitter Meetups

Glitter Meetup is the weekly town hall of the Internet Freedom community at the IFF Square on the IFF Mattermost, at 9am EST / 1pm UTC. Do you need an invite? Learn how to get one here.

Date: Thursday, May 19th

Time: 9am EDT / 1pm UTC

Who: Francisca Skoknic

Moderator: Úrsula

Where: On IFF Mattermost Square Channel.

Chile: Digital rights in the new Constitution and the state of press freedom

Chile is writing its new Constitution and the text will include personal data protection rights and the establishment of a Personal Data Protection Agency as an autonomous institution. On the other hand, the country experienced a critical drop in their Press Freedom position on the global report made by Reporters without Borders. In fact, last week, the Chilean journalist Francisca Sandoval died after being shot while she was covering a demonstration.

Francisca Skoknic is a Chilean Journalist who has developed her career in investigative journalism. This year, she received the Lenka Franulic award, which is a recognition of her career path. She writes a weekly newsletter about updates of the new Chilean Constitution process, LaBot Constituent: https://robotlabot.substack.com/

Notes

Our featured guest today is Francisca (@francisca on Mattermost), Chilean Journalist who has developed her career in investigative journalism. This year, she received the Lenka Franulic award, which is a recognition of her career path. She writes a weekly newsletter about updates of the new Chilean Constitution process, LaBot Constituent

After 2019’s demonstrations in Chile, the country started to elaborate its new Constitution, how the process has been and at what stage is the new Constitution’s process now?

  • This is the first constitutional process with elected representatives. They started their work last year in July and finished their first draft last week. Now their "editing", writing the introduction and the rules for the transition, but all of that will be voted on in a referendum in September. If the proposal is not a approved, we will keep the current Constitution, which was written in 1980, during the dictatorship.

The Constitution draft includes some rights related to expression and media, and about internet, digital rights, and data privacy. Could you highlight the main features about them?

draft of the new Constitution] is very innovative because it includes a lot of topics that are not present in the current Constitution and are nos common in many Constitutions around the world. It was written during a climate emergency, so is very ecological; it is also unique regarding gender parity (every public institution must have at least 50% women in its leadership) and also includes new rights regarding new technologies…
  • For example, it states that every person has the right to the protection of personal data and it creates an autonomous data protection agency
  • Also, it includes some topics regarding digital democracy, promoting the use of digital tools for participation (not in elections)
  • In the chapter regarding the right to have a decent job, it says that every worker has the right of digital disconnection too.

What do you think about including these rights and concepts in a country's Constitution? What impact will it have in the country?

  • There has been some criticism because the text is too long and includes so many details, so one can ask if all these topics should be part of the Constitution or part of regular laws. I am not a lawyer so I am not sure hahah, but, I think that many topics are now in the constitutional draft because the Congress was too slow or too conservative. They have been working in a new data protection law for at least five years and we don't when they will finish (and how...), so now the constitutional convention decided to do it itself.
  • The Constitution doesn't mean that the problem is solved, but it will force the Congress to pass the law and it also has a digital "mind frame" that is important for a digital world.

Reporters without Borders published its World Press Freedom Index 2022, which assesses the state of journalism in 180 countries. What do you think about it? Chile dropped 27 positions since the previous report. What are the reasons?

  • There are some structural problems, like media ownership concentration, but I think that the main change is what happened during the protests in 2019, when journalists were targeted and attacked. So it's mostly a safety issue.

How risky is doing journalism in Chile nowadays?

  • Compared with other countries in the region, it's not risky. The safety issues are mostly related to the coverage of protests. And there are different levels of safety there.

Who targets and attacks them?

  • Since 2019 journalists from traditional outlets have been attacked by the protestors because they are seen as not fair. So, for example, for TV stations it is risky to report in the streets. On the other hand, there is the institutional risk: the police attack the press when they see they are recording police abuses. They attack people with cameras, in general. And there is not a special protection for journalists, so you can be attacked by protestors or by the police.
  • As you probably know, a journalist was killed recently. She was Francisca Sandoval. For those who don't know, Francisca Sandoval was a young journalist who was covering a demonstration in Chile and received a gunshot. She died the past Thursday 12 May, after being hospitalized for 12 days. The case shocked Chile because the suspects were carrying illegal guns and there are videos which show them talking to the Police during the demonstration.

Could you explain what happened? What do you think about it?

  • She worked in a local TV station, she was probably filming with her cellphone (not sure about that). The shooter was a civilian that was shooting the protestors, supposedly defending the commerce in the area. He is allegedly part of a group of informal armed guards in the area, which is illegal.

Why do these informal armed guards shoot journalists?

  • This is a new kind of risk. We don't know why she shot her, but probably because she was filming. A camera is a powerful tool to denounce. If you are doing something illegal you don't want to be recorded.

How is the process of the constitution reform perceived by the general population? It has a participatory component, right?

  • The process was supported in a referendum by 80% of the population in 2020, but since then polls show that people are not too happy with the result and today are not sure if they are going to approve it in September. But there is a lot of misinformation and lack of information, so the campaign will be crucial
  • Regarding participation, yes, there were important spaces for it. Actually, part of the articles regarding data protection and digital rights was part of a proposal of a department of the Laws School of the Universidad de Chile. They had to reunite more than 15000 signatures and the Convention has to debate and vote its content

Has military violence increased in student demonstrations?

  • I think we have a structural problem of police brutality, but as demonstrations are bigger in recent years, the violence increased because Police don't know how to deal with it in a peaceful way. Many people were hurt in 2019. Regarding the tanks, that is not so usual because the military is not allowed to be on the street and to deal with civilians unless we are in an exceptional constitutional status. That happened in 2019 and ins happening now in southern Chile
  • Here you can read an in-depth story about how journalists and people using cameras were targeted by the police in 2019

Regarding Labot, does it exist as a Telegram bot as well doesn't it?

  • LaBot was first a chatbot in Telegram and Messenger. She is still there, but now has new ways to communicate hahaha. We have different projects, for example we investigated human rights abuse after 2019, you can see our work here.
  • We also work in collaborative international projects, like Pandora Papers
  • And now we are mostly focused in the constitutional process, writing a weekly newsletter