US sponsors controversial forum to drive free internet access in Cuba

US sponsors controversial forum to drive free internet access in Cuba

Today, government and non-governmental representatives will assemble in Washington, DC for the first public meeting of the Cuba Internet Task Force, a group designed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to discuss strategies to bring Cubans greater internet capabilities and unmonitored press. More than 40% of Cubans are internet users, over half of whom have

Cuba Internet

Photo: Brookings

Today, government and non-governmental representatives will assemble in Washington, DC for the first public meeting of the Cuba Internet Task Force, a group designed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to discuss strategies to bring Cubans greater internet capabilities and unmonitored press.

More than 40% of Cubans are internet users, over half of whom have connected since Obama and Castro’s 2014 deal. At a limiting hourly cost where the average monthly salary is $20, Cubans can find access at over 500 WiFi zones throughout the island, and the government seeks to offer roaming services this year. The US Task Force’s objective is to further Cubans’ ability to “enjoy the free and unregulated flow of information” untouched by the Castro administration.

Today’s meeting further deteriorates US-Cuba relations following President Trump’s business and travel restrictions enacted last June. The Cuban Foreign Ministry accused the Task Force of being a subversive, manipulative intervention that disregards Cuban sovereignty.

From this initial meeting, the Cuban government may react by tightening censorship on websites based in the US, such as Facebook or YouTube, in addition to its blockade of sites funded by the US government.

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