'Anti-meme law' could see Mexicans jailed for posting insulting images

Critics say legislation ‘violates freedom of expression’

Chris Baynes
Thursday 04 October 2018 16:22 BST
'Anti-meme law' could see Mexicans jailed for posting insulting images

Strict new cyberbullying laws could lead to internet users in Mexico being jailed for posting insulting memes, it has been claimed.

Veracruz state voted in favour of reforms that will criminalise the dissemination of “harmful or malicious” images, video and messages deemed to damage a person’s “reputation or self-esteem”.

Offenders can be jailed up for to two years.

Jose Kirsch Sanchez, the left-wing congressman who proposed the reforms, said they were intended to protect vulnerable internet users from abuse.

But critics have said the legislation is broad, with local media dubbing it “anti-meme law”.

Some suggested local politicians were seeking to prevent themselves from being ridiculed online.

The eastern state’s outgoing governor, Miguel Angel Yunes, said he planned to veto the law, which he described as “unconstitutional for violating the freedom of expression of the people of Veracruz”.

His successor, governor-elect Cuitlahuac Garcia, also criticised the legislation and said he would ask Veracruz congress to review it when he enters office later this year.

“I find the writing excessive and ambiguous,” he said.

In 2015, a Mexican parliamentarian tried to introduce a law which banned people from making memes that inflicted “unjustified damage to human dignity”.

Legislation proposed by Selma Guadalupe Gomez, congresswoman for Sonora, would have seen offenders punished $1,600,

But the plan backfired in predictable fashion, after she was herself mocked online in a variety of memes. The proposal was later dropped.

Last month Sweden’s advertising watchdog ruled the famous “distracted boyfriend” meme was sexist.

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