New Cuban laws tightens management of social media and causes anger

File Photo: During a rally in Havana, Cuba, the late President of Cuba Fidel Castro, the President of Cuba and First Secretary of the Communist Party Miguel Diaz Cannell, and the former President of Cuba and Raul Castro of the Communist Party. I’m carrying a poster with a picture of the secretary. July 17, 2021. REUTERS / Alexandre Meneghini

August 18, 2021

Sarah Marsh

Havana (Reuters) – Cuba this week introduced stricter regulations on the use of social media, including a ban on publications that could undermine “national fame”, angering many citizens and international human rights defenders. Rice field.

Decree 35, published in the official bulletin on Tuesday, was announced a month after the most widespread protest against the government 2021 -07 -11 11 people in a country that for decades was ruled by the Communist Party. This has spread in part because of information shared on social media.

The law prohibits the distribution of false news or news and content that is considered offensive or “encourages mobilization or other acts that violate public order and morality”. It also provides a channel for Cubans to be notified of potential violations.

Those who “try to overturn the constitutional order” are considered cyber-terrorists. Penalties for violations are not mentioned.

“Our Decree 35 opposes false information and cyber lies,” said President Miguel Diascanel, who condemned the July 11 protests in a US-sponsored online counter-revolutionary campaign.

Cuban analysts compared this measure to George Orwell’s 1984 totalitarianism, saying he feared the vague definitions of what constitutes a violation would allow for arbitrary implementation.

Since the introduction of the mobile internet about two years ago, platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp have enabled Cubans to share their dissatisfaction and even mobilize in countries where public space is strictly controlled.

“Cuba has formalized digital oppression,” said Erica Guevara Rosas, Amnesty International director for America. The state had already monopolized Internet access and was restricted during and after the July 11 protests.

She said Nicaragua passed a similar “cybercrime” law last year, poking opponents in the snout with it.

A new Cuban decree expressly instructs the state telecommunications monopoly, in cooperation with the relevant authorities, to shut down the service for users who commit violations.

“We can’t even speak”

Cuban officials are allowed to dialogue, but only “within the boundaries of the revolution” in order to present a unified front to the United States, which has long openly tried to force political change in the country. I have long claimed that it is allowed.

Last month, the US government found Cuban people on the Internet private sector and parliament are looking for ways to facilitate access.

Some Cuban Americans also use social media to encourage Cubans on the island to oppose the government and engage in sabotage.

However, many young Cubans were banned from speaking out and were posted on social media to criticize new measures adopted a month after the protests echoed in the cry for “freedom”. It’s not an excuse to leave.

“I can’t even speak now,” said a doctor who had taken part in the video, while maintaining anonymity. -crisis-growing-dissent-2021-08-18 Cuba’s COVID-19 condemns the dire working conditions during the crisis.

The US State Department said Tuesday that Cuba “should not punish those who tell the truth,” but British Ambassador to Havana Antony Stokes said on Twitter that recent crackdowns on protesters and censorship by Decree 35, “Silence the legitimate voice ”wrote. “

Eloy Viera, a Canada-based Cuban legal analyst, said Decree 35 outlined the regulation rather than renewing criminal law. So if a violation is found, it cannot be jailed. Specified.

However, regulating online opinion was a stricter and clearer policy measure than the 2019 legislation before the ban on “disseminating information that is contrary to the public interest, morality, dignity and integrity”.

Government critics face fines under the decree, Viera said. But in the end, he said, it didn’t work, and maybe Decree 35 didn’t work either.

“You can’t apply it to all complaints from Cubans who have found a place on social media that doesn’t exist in public places in the country,” Viera said.

(Report by Sarah Marsh, edited by Rosalba O’Brien)

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