Debate in Cuba on State Control of Internet Access

The meeting had about twenty participants and had among its panelists the journalists Jose Jas a n Nieves, coordinator of the magazine “El Toque” , Sandra Mariela, Dario Alejandro, director of the official magazine “Somos Jovenes” , and the engineer Daniel Estevez Gonzalez, Webmaster of the magazine “Palabra Nueva”.

It transpired in the meeting that, according to official figures, Cuba already reaches 5 million users on the Internet, of which, around 60% access networks through institutions and only 40% (2 million) are connected paying the official rate of the Telecommunications Company (ETECSA).

Control of Internet access

“Cubans enter social networks, especially young people, are very attentive and connected to the typical behavior of any young person in the Western world who is in social networks,” said Jose Jasan Nieves, who assured that, despite the limitations, the The public space of Cubans has multiplied.

For his part, engineer Daniel Estévez explained that the connectivity of Cubans continues to be poor compared to the international average.

“In the newspaper Juventud Rebelde (official) in an interview with the great ETECSA monopoly that exists here, ETECSA said that 145 thousand connections had been reached in unison in Cuba; I think that number is laughable given the number of people and the time it takes to exist in social networks, and Internet connectivity in the world (…) Divide the figure by 10 million and see the number they are giving “.

The participants in the debate agreed that the majority of Cubans limit their access to the Internet to family communication and that the cost of the service is still very high compared to the average salary in Cuba (750 pesos per month – 30 CUC).

From her personal experience, journalist Sandra Mariela referred to the need to “alphabetize” young people, when referring to the use of the Internet beyond social networks. He added as an example a group of thirty-five communication students who bought data packages; only one of them used the service to find academic information, the rest used it in social networks.

State control of users

The debate gained depth with the issue of digital security and state controls, as well as the access of some institutions to user data. The disinterest of Cubans in defending the right to privacy through legislation also came to light.

The journalist Jose Jasan Nieves pointed out the importance of constitutionally establishing the privacy of user data that depends on a server controlled by the government.

“Beyond the control of the Internet that may exist in Cuban institutions, in terms of the use made by their workers or students (…) We should be concerned about the control exercised over our data,” he said.

The journalist also warned that current legislation allows internal institutions to access user information.

“The point is in how citizens are concerned to see what is legislated in this matter and how we seek to influence it in a different way,” Nieves proposed.

The debate addressed other issues such as the so-called electronic government, the new government directive that guided the Minister Council to use social networks.

Leave a Comment