10/03/13 - Miami Herald - Freedom House ranks Cuba's Internet as 'not free'
Cuba's Internet remains one of the least free in the world, suffering
under prodigious government regulation that have left it with little
access to almost anything except for e-mail, the rights group Freedom
House reported Thursday.
The number of Web sites blocked by censors has remained about the same
since last year and the government still uses a cyber militia to attack
dissidents, the Washington-based non-profit noted in its global Freedom on
the Net report for 2013.
Branding Cuba as not free, the report s 14-page chapter gave it an 86,
with zero being the best and 100 the worst. Also on the not free list:
China, Vietnam, Syria, Belarus, Sudan, Ethiopia, Burma and Pakistan.
Cuba has long ranked as one of the world s most repressive environments
for information and communication technologies, it said. High prices,
exceptionally slow connectivity, and prodigious government regulation have
resulted in a pronounced lack of access to applications and services other
Only select government entities have benefitted from the ALBA-1 fiber
optic cable that was turned on earlier this year, the report said,
although the ultra high-speed cable had been expected to allow much wider,
cheaper and faster access to the Web.
At least a dozen dissident bloggers were detained and one independent
journalist, Calixto Martinez, whose reports appear on several online
sites, was held without formal charges for six months. Even generally
pro-government blogs were blocked when they crossed the official line of
acceptable criticism, the report said.
Freedom House also reported that government censors blocked Cubans access
to phone numbers abroad for systems such as the U.S.-based Digalo sin
Miedo Say it Without Fear once widely used by activists to publicize
The system allowed Cubans to call a U.S. number and record a brief
complaint. A computer would then email an alert to those who had signed up
for the service, such as exiles who support the dissidents or journalists
who report on Cuba.
Government censors also tightened controls on access to the Web in the
workplace the vast majority of Cubans with Internet connectivity get it
through their jobs in state agencies and enterprises and continued to
use computer-savvy supporters as foot soldiers in a cyber war against
government critics, according to the report.
The cyber militia, for instance, uses blogs or Tweets to accuse
dissidents of cheating on their spouses or pocketing money meant for
others, and send emails to journalists abroad pushing the Cuban government
line but pretending to be simple citizens.
Surveillance remains extensive, extending to government-installed
software designed to monitor and control office e-mail accounts as well as
many of the island s public internet access points, the report added.
Most mobile phones in Cuba do not have access to the Internet, according
to Freedom House, founded in 1941 to advocate for democracy, freedom and
human rights around the world.
The report also noted that Cuba s communist-era constitution explicitly
subordinates freedom of speech to the objectives of a socialist society,
and freedom of cultural expression is guaranteed only if such expression
is not contrary to the Revolution.
In one of the few positive developments mentioned, the report noted that
the Cuban government loosened travel restrictions in January and allowed
some critical bloggers, such as Yoani Sánchez, to leave the island for the
first time in years.
The Cuba chapter of the report, which covers developments up to April, was
written by Ernesto Hernandez Busto, a Cuba-born author who lives in Spain
and edits the blog Penultimos Dias Penultimate Days.
Original Source / Fuente Original:
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