Google announced today that its Chrome browser is now accessible in Cuba.
Of course, this will only have a positive impact for the few Cubans that the Castro regime grants the "luxury" of accessing the Internet -- and if it chooses to not block it.
However, the only reason Chrome was not currently accessible in Cuba was because of Google's own internal decision.
In 2010, the Treasury Department issued a general license authorizing the exportation to persons in Cuba of certain services incident to the exchange of personal communications over the Internet.
(Overall exemptions for telecom services were previously enshrined in the 1992 Cuba Democracy Act.)
It did so for Iran, Sudan and Cuba.
This includes certain services, including instant messaging, chat and email, social networking, sharing of photos and movies, web browsing (Chrome), and blogging.
The two caveats are: 1. that the services must be publicly available at no cost to the user. 2. a prohibition if there is knowledge or reason to know that such services are intended for a prohibited official of the Government of Cuba or a prohibited member of the Cuban Communist Party.
Why did it take Google four years to discover this general license? God knows, for it's clear as day.
(A perfect example of Google's obliviousness was Executive Chairman Erick Schmidt's post pursuant to his recent trip to Cuba. Here was our response.)
Yet, that's not the spin we've been hearing from anti-sanctions lobbyists for the last four years. Instead, they opt for exaggeration and misinformation.
Even in today's announcement, Google tried to deflect responsibility by stating it's decision was due to "trade restrictions evolving."
The only thing that "evolved" was Google's ability to catch up with the law.
Now, if Google really wants to help the Cuban people -- here's what it can easily do.
at 9:42 AM Thursday, August 21, 2014
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