Argentina: Judge orders all ISPs to block the sites LeakyMails.com and Leakymails.blogspot.com

Using the motto “Let’s stop lies and hypocrisy”, Leakymails.com was a project designed to obtain and publish relevant documents exposing corruption of the political class and the powerful in Argentina. The site was open to publish emails either from official or personal accounts, pictures, videos or any other document exposing misbehaviors or unethical actions of public figures in the Southern country, where corruption is rampant. 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 site raised concerns among different sectors, some saying that the publication of private emails was risking the personal data and privacy of individuals and that the content was largely irrelevant to fighting corruption.

Most of the documents published by the site so far are emails sent from personal and official accounts of prominent politicians, including the Private advisor of Cristina Fernández, the Argentinean President, Isidro Bounine and the Secretary of the Interamerican Commission of Human Rights, Santiago Canton and other visible people. The content, however, was largely irrelevant, daily or personal matters, with few exceptions.

Dr. Esteban José Rosa Alves, General Director of the Argentinean Ministry of National Security, denounced the websites to the judicial authorities arguing that their content was jeopardizing the national security and at the same time was risking the privacy of a number of public functionaries. Following the complaint and after a preliminary investigation, the National Criminal Court (Juzgado Nacional en lo Criminal y Correccional No.9, Secretaría No. 17) issued interim measures to block the site and ordered the National Communications Commission to instruct all Internet Service Providers to temporarily block the access to LeakyMails.com and Leakymails.blogspot.com. The order was published here.

According to the Interim Measures (document available in Spanish) the legal basis to order the blocking is to prevent the violation of rights protected by the Constitution of Argentina , including illegal disclosure of political secrets and military secrets, and the inviolability of personal correspondence and private papers.

The order to preemptively block a Website before a criminal conviction might be against the American Convention on Human Rights , a binding treaty for Argentina, which establishes on its article 13 ‘Freedom of Thought and Expression’, that everyone has the right to freedom of thought and expression. This right includes freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing, in print, in the form of art, or through any other medium of one's choice. It also provides that the exercise of the right provided for in the foregoing paragraph shall not be subject to prior censorship but shall be subject to subsequent imposition of liability, which shall be expressly established by law.

So far only few Internet Service Providers have blocked the sites according to reports sent to Herdict.org. LeakyMails, instructing many of their followers via Twitter , already made the content available for anyone to download, created mirrors , registered other domain names and instructed their readers to use mechanisms to circumvent the blockade, proving that methods to circumvent digital blockings are faster than orders to block or take down a Website, no matter how harmful or destructive or how relevant its content might be.

17 comments

  • Ezequiel

    Just a comment. I read the emails and haven’t found any sign of corruptions or unethical behavior.

    There are, yes, some details of private life (for example, two friends sharing details about a sexual encounter).

    The emails that were exposed are just yahoo and hotmail accounts. No official email, not even insights about politics (as there were on wikileaks).

    To me, this is just a regular privacy invasion. The same as if your or my email account was hijacked and exposed on a website. Remember that wikileaks were actual official documents, whereas this is just private emails. So I don’t see how exposing this can be justified.

    • Juan Pelotas

      Totally in accord with your position, hacking private mail is a crime, it is a violation of a human right, the right of privacy.
      It is interesting that the goal of this “site” sniff into the probate mails of the Argentine government which is in fact as wire taping without a judge order assuming that the spied are guilty before trial.
      I would be more concern in the private dealing and wheeling of the powerful ruling class and their well proof corrupt business, people that have plunder the Argentine economy for decades.
      It is kind of risky on the other hand leave a comment in a site managed by hackers, they can get into my mail address too ….Hashanah.

  • Rodrigo

    Ezequiel: we know in which side are you…. sabemos de que lado estás !!

    • Juan Pelotas

      Uhyyy is this a theat like in the 70′s????
      Uy que miedo che, estas amenazando como un boton de los 70, jejejejej me puedo imaginar de que lado estan los que manejan este espacio, jajajajjajajajjajaja

  • Ezequiel

    Too bad everything has to come down to “sides” as if this was a war. I am not opposed to wikileaks, which showed more interesting information about Argentinian politics.

    • Juan Pelotas

      You are absolutely right because what has been exposed are official documents, issued by public figures that concern the public interest. Those documents are a proof of how a state interfere with another state that is conceder a “friend”, and shows how national security may be in risk by other power.
      Besides everything else, about this site, LeakyMails.com, what can you expect from a site that is conducted in English, created only to monitor the Argentine Government…. jajajajjajaj soooo obvious, cannot be more ridiculous hehehehhehehe.
      Well, it is the American way … hahahahhahahha

  • Morrigan

    The hypocrisy lies on that site Leakymail, as they cannot support if the mails expossed were true or faked. That`s unethical behavior and corruption as well.

    Rodrigo, sabemos de que lado estas vos también

  • From my perspective citizens should be very concern not on this particular incident but on its implications for the future: now ISPs must buy software and learn how to censor websites, after the first site blocked then it will be quicker to block the access to information. It is not a matter of right v left but Government v citizens.

    • Juan Pelotas

      Reantita, as far as I can remember the private sector has been historical more detrimental than anything else.
      It was the private interest behind the colonization of India, the coup d’etat in Guatemala, the ITT in Chile, the IMF, and the private banks in the destruction of the Argentine Estate in the 76 and 2001, they are destroying the American economy now in 2011.
      I am a democrat and a republican, in the good cense of the word, and if the democracy exists and the estate is elected by the people and run by the people, there should not be any institution as democratic as such estate.
      The private sector on the other hand is an “autocracy” way far from being democratic at all, without social and public responsibilities and without the “republican” check and balance mechanisms.
      Citizens are not versus the democratic government, in any case they are, for sure versus “autocratic” corporations and private interests.
      I do not care about the corrupt officials because they will be ousted of power as soon as they prove inefficient.
      I am worry about criminal privates that move in the shadows without scrutiny, they run the well being of millions and they are not accountable.

  • Ezequiel

    I agree that this is government vs citizens. Just as police stopping somebody from robbing you is government vs citizens. Instead of focusing on this, we should focus on what they are attempting to stop and with what means.

    I think comparisons to wikileaks are really misleading, because wikileaks was about government secrecy. One could argue that government secrecy is overvalued and not more important than free speech. However, is free speech more important than people’s right to privacy? Would it be ok if a journalist tapped my phone and published my communications? I don’t think so. And I think that under most laws, a journalist who attempted to do this would be imprisoned.

    Three things to consider:
    1. All email I saw were private emails from private accounts. I didn’t see any sign of official business conducted on those accounts.
    2. Not all emails were from politicians, there were some emails belonging to entrepreneurs. And even then, politicians have the same rights to privacy as we do in their private life.
    3. This is not unprecedented, there’s been attempts to take down web pages that contained leaked sex videos of stars and things like that. There have been also precedents of magazines being taken out of the stands because they contained unauthorized material (again, unconsented photos of sexual nature). Somehow, we tend to believe internet is the wild west and everything goes. It is a controverted matter, but I would hardly consider this “government vs citizen” because government is in this case also protecting citizen’s rights.

    Finally, there was a new development today. There were some new leaks, this time documents with data that is supposed to have been gathered by an intelligence agency. It is hard to know if the documents are apocryphal (I was able to verify some of the information like accounts and passwords but I can’t verify the author of the documents is who leakymails claim to be). However, I am not opposed to the release of those documents. I think we should work against intelligence agencies. I don’t think government (or any body) should be allowed to spy on citizens.

    • chedca

      consider that had it not been for our ability to spy on the axis at many periods and then indefinitely during the second world war, there is a great chance that, retrospectively, the allies could have lost

      the fragility of lines of communications, and their importance, to me is frightening considering the example

  • I agree with Ezequiel. It is misleading to compare this case with this case with Wikileaks or with the “Pentagon Papers”. This case involves the disclousure of mails that are, by definition, private. There are, to my knwoledge, no official documents involve. There is also an strong suspicion that some of the emails may be apocryphal.

    Nonetheless I agree with the general opinion. The horse is no longer in the barn. It seems pointless to close the door now.

    Someone is spying us. The good thing about this scandal is that perhaps we’ll know who are responsibles… or then again, maybe we won´t.

  • Ernest

    “funcionarios” isn’t “functionaries”; it’s “officials”

    Just FYI

  • Pablo

    Besides all the privacy concerns, political sides and whatnot, I am really dissapointed at the kneejerk reaction by the CNC. They outright censored the website, ordering all major ISPs to block the access to it.

    The thing is, the blog was hosted on Blogspot, so they effectively took down one of Google’s IPs, and many unfortunate Blogspot accounts as well.

    This inept Federal Judge, Sergio Torres, will go unpunished. We can’t let tech unsavvy lawyers control the internet.

    http://www.cnc.gov.ar/noticia_detalle.asp?idnoticia=106

  • ALL ALLL ALLLL power class in Argentina ARE corrupt! Alberto Pinto Call me: +54(911)4094-0268

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