Internet Freedom: Cuba Ranks Last in Americas, Fourth to Last in World

Friday, December 5, 2014
Freedom House has just released "Freedom on the Net 2014" – its annual comprehensive study of internet freedom around the globe.

According to the report, as regards Internet freedom, Cuba ranks last in the Americas and fourth to last in the world.

Only China, Syria and Iran ranked worse. North Korea was not ranked.

Read the entire Cuba section of the report here.

Here's the Introduction:

Cuba has long ranked as one of the world’s most repressive environments for information and communication technologies (ICTs). High prices, exceptionally slow connectivity, and extensive government regulation have resulted in a pronounced lack of access to applications and services other than email. Most users can access only a government-controlled intranet rather than the global internet, with hourly connection costs amounting to 20 percent of the minimum monthly wage. Although mobile phone penetration has been on the rise, and access to the high-speed internet provided by the new ALBA-1 fiber-optic cable was finally extended to citizens in late 2013 via the opening of new “cyber points” or “navigation halls,” ICT access remains limited. Nevertheless, a vibrant community of bloggers has managed to document conditions on the island and transmit information beyond Cuba’s borders.

In recent years, Cuba has exhibited a slight opening to the outside world, although this has not yet correlated to a change in the country’s human rights practices. Some 3,000 opposition and civil society members were subject to detention surrounding the Caribbean and Latin American States (CELAC) summit, hosted in Havana in January 2014. The cell phones of known pro-democracy activists were blocked ahead of the meetings, text messages could neither be sent nor received, and those who attempted to call activists were met with busy signals.

A number of dissidents were also detained or placed under house arrest as part of “Operation Cleanup,” an attempt to keep citizens from voicing human rights concerns to CELAC representatives. Although the government appeared to loosen its restrictions on online media by unblocking a number of blogs in 2011, in 2013 a handful of dissident and critical pro-government sites were blocked once again. Phone numbers associated with the “speak-to-tweet” platform, widely used by activists to publicize human rights violations, were shut down in 2012 and remained disabled as of June 2014. Surveillance has continued on the island, where it has been extended to Cuba’s new “navigation halls.” It is likewise still commonplace in offices, where government-installed software monitors email accounts.