TICOBULL – In an article in La Nacion Friday, blogger Pablo Fonseca, brings us back to 2005 when Costa Rica seriously considered blocking Skype, just like today it wants to do with Uber.
In 2005, the state agency ICE still had a monopoly on telecommunications, that included expensive international calling in the country. Skype revolutionized telecommunications, and as the ICE could not adapt, it thought it best to prohibit the service or control its access in the country.
“Representative of the Instituto do not know whether to consider voice of the internet (VoIP) as a fraud and punish its use or qualify it as an added value and regulate it,” the La Nacion wrote a decade ago.
In that scenario, either way, Costa Rica would continue to maintain a strong control on international calling, regardless of the outside world moving faster and more efficiently.
The move against Skype wasn’t just rhetoric on the part of ICE officials, it wanted to “police” the internet, at least in Costa Rica. To achieve this it began to lobby legislators to draft a bill making the use of Skype unlawful, punishable by jail.
The La Nacion noted that the legal director of ICE at the time, Giovanni Bonilla, said the state agency was aware that the advances in technology will force the company to make changes, but, insisted, as necessary, “to punish the fraud”.
Forward ten years and a similar situation is occurring, this time from the Ministerio de Obras Publicas y Transportes (MOPT) – ministry of Public Works and Transport – under pressure of bus operators and taxi drivers, quantifying Uber drivers as providing an “illegal” service.
Just like ICE tried to do with Skype ten years ago, the MOPT wants to deny Costa Ricans the opportunity to decide if Uber really represents a benefit for for them.
Nothing in the technological world has success if it is of poor quality or no use.
Imagine if ten years ago ICE had been successful in shutting down Skype in Costa Rica, something that would have proved completely ridiculous.
We’ll see in ten years from now of what happened to Uber in Costa Rica.
Uber could be a good thing. Hope the lesson was learned and Costa Ricans, and not the MOPT, can decide to take advantage of what Uber offers or not.