U.S. telecommunications firms must not help violate human rights in Cuba (Sen. Mel Martinez)

Yoani Sanchez, whose Generation Y blog gives “voice” to the reality of today’s Cuba, recently wrote, “For alternative bloggers—within Cuba—the only common thing that unites us is the use of the Internet to hang our opinions, chronicles and questions.”

Unfiltered information and privacy are fundamental components of freedom.  For a growing number of Cubans, the Internet is an avenue to find expression that is constrained by the regime; for Cubans to express “the diversity of dreams and desires [and] to stress the plurality that in the real Cuba is hidden under the mask of unanimity.”

As the Obama Administration promulgates the rules to implement his April announcement on telecommunications it is essential to bolster the blossoming of speech in Cuba.  The Castro regime is seeking to control this new avenue of expression.

Elsewhere in the world, we have already seen the complicity between U.S. companies and authoritarian regimes to restrict Web access and identify anyone using the Internet.  China is the most vivid example of commercialism overriding our basic ideals of freedom, especially freedom of speech.  We should not—cannot—let that happen in Cuba.

President Obama has declared a new beginning with Cuba and that includes a continuing commitment to the freedom of the Cuban people.  The new rules for U.S. telecommunications companies interaction with Cuba should honor that commitment by prohibiting any activities that would allow the Cuban regime to suppress or violate the human rights of the Cuban people.