Argentinian National Criminal Court orders all ISPs to block leakymails.com, leakymails.blogspot.com
This past week, an Argentinian judge from the National Criminal Court (Juzgado Nacional en lo Criminal y Correccional No.9, Secretaría No. 17) ordered all ISPs to block the political whistleblowing sites leakymails.com and leakymails.blogspot.com. Under the banner of “lets stop lies and hypocrisy,” leakymails.com was intended to expose corruption within Argentina government by publishing relevant public or official emails, videos, and pictures documenting unethical conduct by public figures.
The site largely contains emails published from personal and official accounts of prominent politicians such as the personal advisor of Argentinian president Cristina Fernández, Isidro Bounine. However, most of the content has been largely irrelevant to the sites goals of exposing corruption. As a result, the site has raised serious questions about the online boundaries between the public and private sphere as many officials claim that, beyond being irrelevant, the information exposed online could compromise national security and individual privacy. Renata Avila from Global Voices Advocacy writes, “The problem of the Website was the blurred line between the public sphere and the private sphere of public functionaries. Who decides what is really important for the general public?”
The court has defended its order in the Interim Measures, which claim that the legal basis for the blocking lies within the Argentinian Constitution’s provisions against illegal disclosure of political secrets and military secrets, and the inviolability of personal correspondence and private papers. However, there may be reason to believe that the blocking order is in conflict with the freedom of expression provisions under Article 13 of Argentina’s legally binding American Convention on Human Rights.
Despite the court order, current Herdict data indicates that the site remains accessible on several ISPs, and leakymails has taken to twitter to advise users on how to circumvent the blocking and access mirror sites. The rapid spread of mirror sites as a result of the banning has been cited by some as another instance of the “Streisand Effect,” whereby an attempt to supress or censor information leads to its more rapid dissemination. How strictly the measures will actually be enforced, and what the consequences will be for the individual site and online freedom of expression in Argentina, remain to be seen.