Cuba issues social media laws banning posts critical of government

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The Cuban government on Tuesday published a series of telecommunications regulations targeting social media users in the wake of a wave of protests against the island’s communist dictatorship. 

The regulations, published in the government’s gazette, ban usage of any telecommunications to “attack the security or internal order of the country [or] transmit fake news or information.” 

July’s demonstrations were the largest since at least 1994, and the country’s government was caught off guard by their geographical extent, as protesters took to the streets in several cities at once.

Social media was seen as a key tool for the protest organizers, and authorities began to censor certain sites on July 12, a day after the protests began.

The new regulations, published by Communications Minister Mayra Arevich, categorize illicit online actions by their level of danger according to the communist regime.

According to the regulations, “spreading fake news, offensive messages, defamation with an impact on the country’s prestige” are a high risk, as are mass blockage of social media accounts and spreading content against “constitutional, social and economic precepts of the state, inciting mobilizations and other acts that alter public order.” 

The new regulations were first reported by Bloomberg.

Internet access has been slowly growing in Cuba, starting in 2008 and ballooning after mobile 4G was introduced in 2019. 

Still, Cuban authorities maintain a tight grip on internet usage and have expanded the state’s broad surveillance apparatus into cyberspace.

While some U.S. legislators called on the Biden administration to take independent measures to expand internet access on the island, it’s unclear whether the technology exists to do so.

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