Monday, October 23, 2006

The Internet in Cuba

Reporters Sans Frontieres has just released a report on Internet censorship in Cuba. The document is available on the RSF web site; here are a few highlights:

An investigation carried out by Reporters Without Borders revealed that the Cuban government uses several mechanisms to ensure that the Internet is not used in a “counter-revolutionary” fashion. Firstly, the government has more or less banned private Internet connections. To visit websites or check their e-mail, Cubans have to use public access points such as Internet cafes, universities and “Youth computing centers” where it is easier to monitor their activity. Then, the Cuban police has installed software on all computers in Internet cafes and big hotels that triggers an alert message when “subversive” key-words are noticed.

The regime also ensures that there is no Internet access for its political opponents and independent journalists, for whom reaching news media abroad is an ordeal. The government also counts on self-censorship. In Cuba, you can get a 20-year prison sentence for writing a few “counter-revolutionary” articles for foreign websites, and a five-year one just for connecting with the Internet in an illegal manner. Few people dare to defy the state censorship and take such a risk."

As the report notes, fewer than 2% of Cubans have Internet access, a figure "down there with Uganda or Sri Lanka." Those few Cubans who can access the web have to be approved by the government to do so. While Cuba does not block web sites like China does, the Castro regime does use spyware that shuts down e-mail and word processing programs if certain forbidden keywords are typed in.

These chilling restrictions on Internet access and use are yet further evidence of the Castro dictatorship's fundamental hostility towards intellectual freedom.

(Thanks to Steve Marquardt for sending word of this report)


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