Saturday, October 12, 2013

Freedom House report on Cuba in "Freedom on the Net, 2013"

Freedom House has published their annual Freedom on the Net report. (I also summariezed the 2012 report). Cuban Internet freedom is ranked 59th of the 60 nations surveyed, using an index based on:
  • Obstacles to Access—including infrastructural and economic barriers to access, legal and ownership control over internet service providers (ISPs), and independence of regulatory bodies;
  • Limits on Content—including legal regulations on content, technical filtering and blocking of websites, self-censorship, the vibrancy/diversity of online news media, and the use of ICTs for civic mobilization;
  • Violations of User Rights—including surveillance, privacy, and repercussions for online activity, such as imprisonment, extralegal harassment, or cyber attacks.
Here are the controls in effect in the top and bottom five scoring nations:

The USA rank will probably drop next year, reflecting the recent revelations of the extent of NSA Internet surveillance. (For the full list of national controls click here).

While Cuba's low rating is not news, the report includes a concise, well-referenced essay on the state of the Cuban Internet. The statistical summary from the article is shown here:

The key developments for May 2012 – April 2013 were:
  • Cuba’s eagerly anticipated high speed ALBA-1 fiber optic cable, which was expected to increase data transmission speeds on the internet 3000 fold, was connected in early 2013; however, access was limited to select government offices rather than being extended throughout Cuba (see Obstacles to access).
  • The government imposed tighter restrictions on e-mail in the workplace, installing a platform that blocks “chain letters critical of the government” (see Limits on Content).
  • In 2012 and 2013, the government continued its practice of employing a “cyber militia” to slander dissident bloggers and to disseminate official propaganda (see Limits on Content).
  • Arbitrary detentions and intimidation of bloggers increased in late 2012 (see Violations of User Rights).
  • Travel restrictions were loosened in early 2013 and some high-profile bloggers, such as Yoani Sánchez, were granted permission to leave Cuba for the first time in years (see Violations of User Rights).

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