Cuba’s social media blackout reflects a shocking new normal

As the protests broke out Around Cuba on Sunday, due to the country’s economic crisis, food shortages and a surge in Covid-19 infections, the island’s ruling party responded by blocking access to Facebook, WhatsApp and other popular communication and social media platforms.This is a measure Authoritarian government has deployed many times In recent years, as the Internet has become increasingly fragmented, it has become possible to suppress the regime’s preferred tool.

The Cuban government did something like this beforeDuring the surge of more localized protests in Havana last November, access to WhatsApp and Twitter was mainly interrupted. But this time it seems to have gone show Cuba suffered some brief, widespread and widespread Internet interruptions on Sunday; after the connection was restored, not only Facebook and WhatsApp, but also Instagram, Signal and Telegram were difficult or impossible to access from the island.most VPN Shielding also appeared. Netblocks, a London-based Internet surveillance company, said on Tuesday that the platform blockade is ongoing.

Pedro Vaca Villarreal, Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, said: “Reports on arrests, attacks on the media and cutting off Internet access” wrote on Sunday. “The state must protect the right to peaceful assembly and expression by avoiding repression and stigmatizing protests.”

Cuban national telecommunications company Etecsa was established in 1994 to provide broadband and Cubacel mobile data.But the government has always heavy Restricted Who can have an Internet connection, but only slowly began to open access in 2016. In 2019, the regime for the first time Private homes and businessesThe combination of complete control and a nascent user base allows the government to perform extensive Internet shutdowns and platform-specific blockades with relative ease.

Juan Carlos Lara, director of public policy, said: “Despite the increasing importance of the Internet in Cuba over the decades, it is still limited and expensive. The government can control the local network through its state-owned telecommunications company. Infrastructure.” At the Latin American rights organization Derechos Digitales. “But the acts of blockade and censorship are not unique to the Cuban regime. Every time we see protests, not only in Latin America, we await reports of blockade and censorship.”

Different from the system designed for full government control, that is, China’s FirewallCuba has not taken for granted certain websites and services to blacklist or block, mainly because it is not necessary to do so.

“The current situation is important because Cuba has, you might say, unexpectedly free internet,” Toque said. “There is a lot of monitoring, but not so much censorship, because access is very limited.”

Etecsa did not make any public statements about the blockade and did not respond to WIRED’s request for comment.

Twitter user Félix Ernesto said: “In addition to what is happening in the country, the relatives of many of us have contracted the new crown virus in remote areas. The only way for us is through the Internet. .” wrote An appeal was filed with the telecommunications company on Tuesday. “Please put mobile data or give answers. Many of us need this service.”

Internet shutdowns, platform blockades, monitoring and censorship are not only the areas of countries that have to invest in major infrastructure projects to maintain digital control, such as Russia with Iran. Favorite country Myanmar with Venezuela Similar measures were taken in the face of protests and unrest, and they were able to do so more easily because their digital infrastructure was more centralized. Platform blockage or complete Internet shutdown for days, weeks, or even months without probation are becoming more common. Same as Kashmir During 2019 and 2020.


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