A group of organizations linked to the controversial investor George Soros has started the task of trying to make Puerto Rico accept a highly expensive system for controlling all the public information that belongs to the State, something that constitutes an assault against freedom of expression and press, apart from constituting a dangerous precedent that could be a potential threat at a regional level.
Disguised as a bill to promote “transparency”, what the measure actually intends is to establish a public policy through which the State controls all public information and every document issued, and establishes the creation of a system in which all government employees must send all the information that passes through their hands to a unified digital program —including notes and conversations regarding that information. Under this system, any unauthorized leak may be tracked in real time, but also, and perhaps even more importantly, the Heads of State could access to detailed information on who is asking for specific information in any place of the country.
This system of terror under which all public employees, and whoever wants to access public documents, will be subjected to, would also be complemented with a special administrative Court, formed by a bunch of commissioners and one prosecutor, who would address the lawsuits that will surely come up when the government refuses to deliver requested information. This should have raised concern among the deputies that were in charge of evaluating such a totalitarian farce.
Unless there are investors, or moguls willing to pay for this project with their money, Puerto Rico clearly doesn’t have enough resources to take up that kind of experiment in a time when it even lacks the money to pay for its public debt or to properly keep public services running. But money can’t pay for the damages that this proposal entails to the Puerto Rican and the regional democracy.
Not only would journalists, communities and the citizenship in general would be cheated by the proposal, but the system has the risk of creating a“domino effect” that influences a whole other series of aspects that so far have not been discussed publicly, regarding reports and documents controlled by several public entities. Academic freedom of all university teachers of the public system would be affected by the mandatory obligation of sharing all information on their students in that system, and the same would happen with other professions involved with sensitive services such as health or social and family welfare.
It wouldn’t be the first time that systems that restrain freedom and democracy are tested in Puerto Rico —which are then implemented in other countries. The proposal is so dangerous that it should be immediately abandoned by the Puerto Rican political institutions, but also, it requires a international debate.