Cuba increases state control over online activities | free press

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Internet access in Cuba was temporarily blocked during the protests in early July. Now the authoritarian government plans to take action against “ethical and social harm” by decree.

Havana (dpa) – A good month after extraordinary anti-government protests in Cuba, it has extended state control over citizens’ internet activities.

According to a decree and other new regulations published Tuesday in the official gazette of the socialist Caribbean state, calls in electronic media to “mobilize and other actions that alter public order” will be classified as a cybersecurity incident in the future.

The Ministries of the Interior and Communications and the armed forces must therefore monitor, ‘neutralize’ and, if necessary, impose sanctions on possible hostile and criminal activities in cyberspace. In the “ethical and social harm” category, the list of “incidents” classified as very dangerous also includes: “Distribution of false news, abusive news, defamation with an impact on the reputation of the country”.

On July 11, thousands of Cubans had spontaneously demonstrated in numerous cities for freedom, against oppression and an economy of scarcity. There had been no such protests on the island for decades. The authoritarian government spoke of the violent unrest the United States had caused to divide the Cubans. Security forces violently broke up the demonstrations and arrested hundreds of people.

Internet access, already restricted by censorship on the island, has been temporarily blocked. Opponents of the government had exchanged views on the protests on social media. The US government said it was looking for ways to make it easier for Cubans to access the Internet. Some Cuban Twitter users denounced the new rules as an attack on free speech and an attempt to silence critics.