The Internet is Not Within the Reach of All Cubans / Laritza Diversent

In Cuba, access to the internet is restricted and very expensive for citizens, but it is also is controlled by state institutions. Those limitations violate the right to information that every human being should enjoy. However, they are backed by legal standards imposed by the government.

On June 14, 1996, the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers, through Decree 209, “Access from the Republic of Cuba to Worldwide Information Networks,” established its strategy regarding the Internet. In that year, Cuba was officially connected to the network of networks.

The statute states that the policy with respect to the internet was drawn according to national interests. It recognizes the goal of ensuring full access to the services from Cuba, but decreed their selective character. According to the government, restrictions on individuals, are due to measures imposed by the U.S. embargo which limit the conditions and quality of the connection.

However, the standard issued by the Council of Ministers, said that these restrictions are to ensure that the information distributed is accurate, that it is obtained consistent with ethical principles, and that it does not affect the interests or safety of country.

To enforce the policy, Decree 209 created an inter-ministry committee charged with authorizing direct access to the Internet. It also prioritizes the connection to legal persons and the institutions most relevant to the life and development of the country.

The committee also regulates the use of information from the global network and is responsible for proposing the decisions that the government should take in relation to computer security, and connection to the services provided.

For several years the government has prioritized access to an internal interconnection project (the intranet). Connected to it are primarily academic, health and other professional areas. This national network ensures complete control of information and minimizes direct connection to a network with global reach.

The inter-ministry committee is chaired by the Minister of Informatics and Communications, and includes the ministers of Science, Technology and the Environment, Justice, Interior and Armed Revolutionary Forces. The latter two regulate access to the Internet to reconcile it with defense and national security.

In March 2008, President Raul Castro allowed the free sale of computers. However, free internet access is still out of reach of the citizens. These restrictions are justified by the economic, technological and communication limitations of the country. Decree 209. However, makes it clear that the worldwide information networks are seen by government as a danger to state security.

October 27, 2010