Internet Censorship in Paraguay

This is a sad story of how a state-owned monopoly can hinder the flow of information to the public even in a supposedly free country.

The state-owned Paraguayan Communications Company (COPACO) has a firm grip on the Internet connectivity of most Paraguayans. This is because COPACO acts at two levels: (1) at the “provider” level, COPACO has the monopoly and sole exploitation of all international fiber-optic Net connections. COPACO then sells bandwidth and connectivity to local ISPs; and (2) at the ISP level, because COPACO is one of Paraguay’s largest ISPs. It is the only one that provides decent, cheap and reliable ADSL connectivity.

Presidential elections are just around the corner, on April 20, and the election climate is hot. Yesterday, COPACO began redirecting some pages that are critical of the Paraguayan government and some officials. This redirecting was done as a DNS hijacking procedure, and all ISPs who had COPACO’s DNS servers as authority were victims.

The domains affected were:
Both of them redirected to the official Colorado Party website.

Redirected to porn websites.
(Note: I apologize for the language in one of the domains, which contains Spanish profanity)

Forensic evidence, I am told, is available here. I didn’t check the contents, yet.

Finally, some friends told me that the whole DNS hijacking was logged and notarized by a public notary, and ICANN was already notified.

As I said, as sad story, and I hope, a story that would not happen again.

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