Is Internet Use a Superfluous Expense?

By: firuzeh on 24 May 2009

By Renata Ávila and Firuzeh Shokooh Valle

On March 25, 2009 the Government of Venezuela issued a decree (Decree 6649) that implements measures to reduce the superfluous or luxurious expenses of the government. The decree establishes that “superfluous or luxury spending is forbidden in the national public sector”, and states that the following expenses will only be allowed in a “rational manner”: mobile phone services, the use of the Internet, technological equipment, rental of executive vehicles, official missions abroad, protocol social activities, and restoration work of public offices and official residences, among others.

Although the Decree only addresses expenses in the public sector, it immediately ignited concerns among Internet users and defenders. The Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional reports that the University of the Andes created the website Internet Prioritaria (Essential Internet) to raise awareness on the importance of access to the Internet, provoke collective actions (local, regional and international) to pressure the government to revise and amend the articles of Decree 6649 concerning the use of the Internet and technology, to exhort the government to develop technologies associated to Internet use that may help optimize public resources and foster institutional education on the effective application of Internet use, and to restore the validity of Decree 825, issued on May 10, 2000, that declares “the access and use of Internet as a priority for the cultural, economic, social and political development of the Government of Venezuela.” The campaign has been extended to YouTube, Twitter (hashtag #internetlujo) and Facebook. One of the most active campaigners has been the political blogger Iria Puyosa No Suma Cero.