Monday, March 30, 2015

If you are reading this, you are probably not in Cuba.

I've been involved in a conversation about content blocking in Cuba recently. The discussion began with this screen shot -- a notice that my blog could not be found at a Nauta access room in Cuba:

I asked around and found one private home where my blog was also blocked and another home, belonging to a foreign journalist living in Cuba, where it was not blocked -- the Cuban blocking is selective.

My blog is hosted on Google's blogging platform, Blogger, and Google assures me that they do not block my blog or any others and that Cubans are free to create blogs on Blogger, watch YouTube videos (if they have fast enough connections), use Gmail and Google Plus, etc.

Google does, however, block Cuban access to their developer site. They are compelled to do that by the government because the State Department list of state sponsors of terrorism includes Cuba, along with Iran, Sudan and Syria, and encryption algorithms are considered weapons. Cubans cannot download Google Earth for the same reason; however, if a Cuban installs a copy of the program, it works -- the service and data are not blocked.

Until recently, Cubans were unable to download the Google Chrome browser (maybe because it contains https code), but that restriction has been removed. I'm sure that anyone in Cuba who wanted Chrome earlier had little trouble getting a copy.

Cuba's being on our list of sponsors of terrorism is about as goofy as their list of jobs that are eligible for self-employment, so I would expect to see that reversed soon.

Google is compelled to block access to their developer tools and Google Earth code, but on a recent visit to Cuba, a Google delegation said they could not accepts Cuban apps in their Play Store. I don't understand that restriction now that US companies are authorized to do business with Cuban programmers.

I wonder why the Cuban authorities decided to block my blog and when. Perhaps it was after reading the very first post in which I postulated three primary causes of the sad state of the Cuban Internet. One of those was the government's fear of freedom of speech and communication. Maybe that did it. If so, it's too bad the censor did not notice that I also said the US embargo was another cause.

In general, I've tried to keep politics out of my posts -- I see enough that is good and enough that is bad on both sides to get everyone angry with me.

Some time ago, someone commented that I had probably been assigned a state security officer. At the time, I wrote a post saying "hi" and inviting him or her to comment on my posts. The offer remains open -- and, if you exist, thanks for not blocking my Google Plus posts. Oh, and you might ask the NSA for a look at my emails.

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