Cuba’s Dark Internet
Cuba’s Dark Internet
One of World's Most Restricted, Despite Recent Infrastructure Upgrades
Cuba’s internet remains one of the most restricted and censored in the world, according to the 2013 Freedom on the Net ranking, published this past week by Freedom House. The watchdog organization, dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world, has covered 60 nations in its third annual report, and Cuba received the worst available grade of “not free.” That compares with “free” grades for Argentina and the United States — while Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela were “partially free.”
In addition to technical or network restrictions on accessible content for Cubans, the 2013 survey cites crackdowns on bloggers and citizen journalists in late 2012, high prices, and extensive government regulation as major factors contributing to Cuba’s unenviable position (p.21, PDF).
Hopes were high that freedom of ideas would spread in Cuba this year following the installation of a high-speed fiber optic cable from politically sympathetic Venezuela. Unfortunately, this did not lead to more access for Cubans, as it became clear that select government agencies and offices were the real beneficiaries of the upgrade. This means that most Cubans continue to be limited to the national intranet, which consists of an in-country e-mail system, a Cuban encyclopedia, and websites that tend to be supportive of the government.
Internet access in Cuba has traditionally been limited by both a lack of funding on the island and fear from the regime regarding the implications of a public with unbridled access to information and online networking. Access in the tightly controlled communist nation also remains expensive where available — four times the average salary.
Even if one does have the funds, Cuba’s surveillance and restrictions come with teeth. They have resulted in fines, confiscations of internet-connected equipment, and detentions of dissident bloggers.
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