Right on cue, the usual suspects (the Castro dictatorship’s supporters, lobbyists, and useful idiots here in the U.S.) jumped up to applaud the news that Google was now offering its Chrome internet browser in Cuba. Although the internet is heavily censored on the island if you can manage to find any connectivity at all, they all assure us this good news was made possible by the magnanimous and beneficent reforms of Cuban dictator Raul Castro. Of course, these are the same usual suspects who applauded the Castro dictatorship’s economic reforms that allowed the formation of private businesses that are not really businesses and that made the sale of new entry-level cars heavily marked up to over $200,000 available to a general population that makes $20 a month.
Nevertheless, these Castro cheerleaders are not going to let the equivalent of giving reading glasses to a blindfolded man dampen their enthusiasm. Things are getting better in Cuba, regardless of the facts!
Google Finally Discovers Long-Standing General License for Chrome
Google announced today that its Chrome browser is now accessible in Cuba.
Of course, this will only have a positive impact for the few Cubans that the Castro regime grants the “luxury” of accessing the Internet — and if it chooses to not block it.
However, the only reason Chrome was not currently accessible in Cuba was because of Google’s own internal decision.
In 2010, the Treasury Department issued a general license authorizing the exportation to persons in Cuba of certain services incident to the exchange of personal communications over the Internet.
(Overall exemptions for telecom services were enshrined in the 1992 Cuba Democracy Act.)
It did so for Iran, Sudan and Cuba.
This includes certain services, including instant messaging, chat and email, social networking, sharing of photos and movies, web browsing (Chrome), and blogging.
The two caveats are: 1. that the services must be publicly available at no cost to the user. 2. a prohibition if there is knowledge or reason to know that such services are intended for a prohibited official of the Government of Cuba or a prohibited member of the Cuban Communist Party.
Why it took Google four years to discover this general license? God knows.
(A perfect example of Google’s obliviousness was Executive Chairman Erick Schmidt’s post pursuant to his recent trip to Cuba. Here was our response.)
Yet, that’s not the spin we’ve heard from anti-sanctions lobbyists for the last four years. Instead, they opt for exaggeration and misinformation.
Even in today’s announcement, Google tried to deflect responsibility by stating it’s decision was due to “trade restrictions evolving.”
The only thing that “evolved” was Google’s ability to catch up with the law.
Now, if Google wants to really help the Cuban people — here’s what it can easily do.