Cuba Takes Measure to Advance Computerization of Society

New regulations have come into force on Thursday in Cuba to promote the organization, development and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and strengthen security in the national cyberspace.

The legal regulations (a law decree, two decrees, an agreement by the Council of Ministers and six resolutions from the Ministry of Communications), were published on Thursday in the Official Gazette and are part of the policy implemented by the Cuban Government since 2005 to computerize society.

At a press conference, Wilfredo Lopez, director of Regulations at the Ministry of Communications (MINCOM), the institution in charge of the program, explained that for the first time, high-level legal regulations are issued to order that policy.

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They are targeted at national legal entities and individuals, establish the responsibilities of each institution in the computerization of society and allow updating the regulations related to national security, he pointed out.

He added that they also allow ordering and knowing about the applications and programs being developed and commercialized in Cuba, and those in charge of implementing electronic commerce.

Lopez noted that the new regulations promote the development of scientific technological parks as part of the industry, and strengthen the linkages of research, development and innovation among universities, local governments, producers of computer applications and research centers.

Among the new regulations, the MINCOM official mentioned Decree 359, which determines the scope of the Cuban software and application industry to promote, improve and increase national production, exports and the reduction of imports.

He underlined that Decree 360 regulates the use of ICTs, the defense of the national cyberspace, and the services and applications that support those technologies, as well as their critical structures.

For the first time, he said, the digital signature with a legal force will be available to legal entities, while digital data protection in electronic support will at their disposal too.

For his part, Ernesto Vallin, director of the computer industry, noted that the institutions that contribute to the production of applications and services, including the Ministry of Education, are recognized.

There are also guarantees to prioritize the hiring of graduates in state enterprises, to teach languages, and the institutions that work in the protection of technological sovereignty are defined, he added.

As part of the process to computerize Cuban society, in late May, the Ministry of Communications issued Resolution 98 on the Use of Wireless High-Speed Systems, and Resolution 99 on Private Data Networks.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuba Builds the Internet It Needs

 Professionals from several sectors, representatives of the civil society and local governments debated in Cuba on an Internet to be better.

The international panorama is today, as it almost always is, very complex; the digital panorama is also complex, a reflection, although mediatized, of the first one.

Amid such varied and difficult scenario, Cubans meet since June 25th until today to come up with an Internet with social justice and for the sustainable human development.

Consistent with the slogan of the meeting, that was the exhortation made by María Esther Alfonso Suárez, First vice-president of the Cuban Group of Computer Experts (UIC for its acronym in Spanish) and Executive President of the organizing committee of the I National Forum for Internet Governance, during its opening, at the Conventions Palace of the Cuban capital.

"This event –said also the official from UIC - has become an opportunity to bring together government, academic and research communities, managerial and non- state sectors, technical community and the civil society, to meditate on the best use in this strategic resource”.

Alfonso Suárez added that the use of Internet must be fully compatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and with the International Right.

Sponsored by the Cuban Association of the United Nations, the UIC, the Cuban Group of Journalists, the Cuban Association of Social Communicators, the Union of Jurists from Cuba, the National Association of Economists and Accountants from and the Association of Educators from Cuba, this is the first time Cuba organizes a National Forum of this type.

Since 2006 have taken place international meetings on the governance of Internet as a result of the summoning made by the General Secretary of the United Nations to create a platform that every year welcomed several debates regarding good policies and practices related to Internet.

Putting within everyone’s reach good guidelines that help steer the navigation and any other interaction with Internet aimed at the human and social growth, always accompanied by ethics and culture. This is the ultimate purpose of this meeting which had as introduction similar events in all domestic provinces.

Just in the same way in which the Cuban society is unique - in a world ruled by selfishness, individualism and the lack of civility -, its behavior in and ways of acting in cyberspace must be also unique.

In a world where globalization blurs at times the identities, feelings of belonging and many other features that tells apart each country and each individual from the other, it’s not a simple objective to also reaffirm the course in the so-called highway of information, and disinformation too.

Therefore, the adviser for the Ministry of Communications, Juan Alfonso Fernández González, was clear during the conference he delivered at the National Forum what was the Governance of Internet.

Fernández González specified that "It’s the development and the application on behalf of governments, private sector and the civil society, in the functions concerning them respectively, of principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures and common programs that configure the evolution and use of Internet."

He next asserted that the Internet we wish for and need must be built with everyone’s help.

On the other hand, the Minister of Communications, Jorge Luis Perdomo, quoted that Internet is influenced by cultural trends that cannot be ignored and urged to keep on developing Cuban projects, platforms of services and domestic contents, while raising the culture of citizens on cyber security.

"Each country is entitled to be proactive in the development of the computer science society, focused on the individual, but with responsibility. Cuba will continue increasing the Internet access to citizens and institutions to maximize the opportunities it brings and guarantee the rights of Cubans to enjoy that environment, deal with the risks and challenges", he said.

There are many challenges, especially if we understand that Internet is also the arena of a thousand battles where are made more than evident the blunt attempts of the U.S. for blurring each of our conquests and suffocate us with shortages.

Let’s just remember that the U.S. has just approved more than 32 million dollars for the subversion in Cuba. This is the new budget for those goals during fiscal year 2020 that goes from October 1st, 2019 until September 30th, 2020. Undoubtedly, part of them will finance many unhealthy attempts in the cyberspace, probably lead by the Cuba Internet Task Force of the North American Department of State.

Nevertheless, while this happens and amid a blockade that tightens every time, next with the coming into force of the Title III and IV of the Helms-Burton Act, Cuba has already a history in Internet since in year 2000 started the access to it, prioritized sectors in our economic and social panorama came first.

At present, 60% of Cubans have Internet access; they do this for free from jobs and schools centers. Also, the possibility of Internet access from mobiles has increased connectivity since last December. Connectivity has increased so much that out of the 5, 5 million mobile lines in Cuba, 2, 5 millions of them have access to mobile data.

On top of the above we must say that other ways of navigation like Wi-Fi areas have also increased, with a total of 1042 Internet access areas.

There are also more than two million permanent Nauta accounts and more than 87 000 houses connected by Nauta Hogar.

The peculiarities that distinguish Cuba’s actions in Internet ratify that it has been followed the goal present in the slogan of this I National Forum of Cyber Space Governance: Internet: Social Justice and the Sustainable Human Development.

The Internet in Cuba and the Wall of Sorrow

Some who are not aware - or simply do not want to be- that the Internet is the new battlefield of the ideological war that the Empire is waging against those countries that disagree with its hegemony, use social media as a sort of wall of sorrow, either on the history or current Cuban reality.

Here is a kind of decalogue that characterizes them:

-The new practitioners of historical materialism are convinced that Capitalism is the upper phase of the Special Period.
 
- They proclaim themselves as revolutionaries, but defenders of a non-existent welfare Capitalism. The Left seems to be their main class enemy.
 
-The champions of free enterprise, based on certain political coincidences, advise tracing the economic models of other countries, but they overlook an essential difference: those nations are not condemned, by mandate of the United States, to be surrendered by hunger.
 
-The same people who said that we should never copy the Soviet model, now propose to plagiarize anything, except originality.
 
-They suffer from political Alzheimer: their memories, full of gaps, do not conceive continuity and, among many other things, they forget that if something went wrong, it was what some of those who regret now invented or applauded before.
 
- Sort of political two-faced people. According to them, they are not extremists because reality is not black and white, but gray, actually they turn a blind eye and only see the spots on the side they claim they belong to.

- Sometimes they work as media megaphones of the enemy propaganda: curiously they coincide in points and commas with their approaches. «Friendly Fire», which the (US) Task Force would like to implement.
 
- They are the new knights of the faith against corruption, as if corruption was an invention of Socialism and not a consequence of inequality, developed, in its maximum expression, in the Capitalism they advocate.
 
- "Experts" in all topics, they have discovered that -apart from the blockade of the United States, the same one that costs Cuba 12 million a day- bureaucracy, inspectors, the incompetent and opportunistic leaders of the companies are the first cause of all evils, so they propose themselves, in the best of cases, as consultants, advisors, journalists and moderators.
 
-In the worst, and deep down, they hope to be bureaucratic reserves, inspectors and inept opportunistic leaders.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

Computerization in Cuba Allows Improving Access to Knowledge

The Cuban Minister of Communications, Jorge Luis Perdomo, stated Wednesday that the computerization program of the society being implemented on Cuba aims to improve people's access to knowledge and information.

Perdomo also suggested, in exclusive statements to Prensa Latina, that the implementation of this project approved last year by the Council of Ministers dismantles the media campaigns against Cuba over an alleged refusal by the Cuban government to open up the Internet.

'For many years Cuba has been demonized with Internet access, because they said it was linked to people not having access to information, and there is a country (Cuba) and a Revolution that has prioritized it above all else', said the official, who spoke Tuesday before members of the National Assembly of People's Power (ANPP, Parliament).

He indicated to guarantee ways for Cubans to appropriate information is in line with Fidel Castro's ideas, who always advocated an increasingly educated society.

Perdomo explained the computerization program in Cuba has several corners and one of the essential is the infrastructure and telecommunications services, including access to the network of networks.

He said it is essential to achieve connectivity between institutions, work and study centers, services for the use of the population, including those that can be accessed from home, the recent opening of the Internet in mobile phones through data, among other aspects.

It also deals with the generation of content, Internet services and platforms for communication between people; government projects and electronic commerce, with the visibility of government agencies, municipal and territorial institutions, and agencies of the Central State Administration, he said.

The program also strives to increase the capacity for interaction between the population and the different state agencies through institutional portals and social media, Perdomo added.

He also pointed out that cybersecurity is essential and must go together with the country's computerization.

'It is necessary to create a safe cyberspace, where services have stability, people's data are protected, we defend ourselves politically and ideologically from enemy subversion, which is very strong in this sector', he acknowledged.

He also added it is intended the people share information with the world, and defend their ideas, their culture and the nation's identity.

  • Published in Cuba

ETECSA broadens its services. Full Internet access for mobile phones

People in Cuba will soon be able to access the internet from their mobile phones for the first time after the government announced it would launch a 3G service.

The president of the state telecoms company, Mayra Arevich, announced on television on Tuesday evening that the long-awaited service would begin on Thursday.

The 3G mobile service will open up the net to browsing in many more places across the island. The data packages available from the state-run company range from 600 megabytes for 7 CUC to 4 gigabytes for about 30 CUC.

These prices are broadly in line with what is available in other countries.

ETECSA vice-president Tania Velazquez said the company would be rolling out the service over several days to avoid the network congestion that occurred during mobile Internet testing earlier this year.

Ms Velazquez announced that access to state-run applications and websites like Ecured, a Cuban Wikipedia, would be significantly cheaper than access to the World Wide Web.

President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who succeeded Mr Raul Castro in April, has championed greater connectivity, underscoring the potential for the Internet to boost the economy and enable Cuba to better defend its revolution online.


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  • Published in Cuba

‘Meme-killing’ EU regulation could end YouTube as we know it, CEO warns

YouTube’s CEO has urged creators on the popular video site to organize against a proposed EU internet regulation, reinforcing fears that the infamous Article 13 could lead to content-killing, meme-maiming restrictions on the web.

The proposed amendments to the EU Copyright Directive would require the automatic removal of any user-created content suspected of violating intellectual property law – with platforms being liable for any alleged copyright infringement. If enacted, the legislation would threaten “both your livelihood and your ability to share your voice with the world,” YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki warned the site’s content creators in a blog post on Monday.

 
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The regulation would endanger “hundreds of thousands of job,” Wojcicki said, predicting that it would likely force platforms such as YouTube to allow only content from a hand-picked group of companies.

“It would be too risky for platforms to host content from smaller original content creators, because the platforms would now be directly liable for that content,” Wojcicki wrote.

While acknowledging that it was important to properly compensate all rights holders, the YouTube chief lamented that the “unintended consequences of Article 13 will put this ecosystem at risk.”

She encouraged YouTubers to use the #SaveYourInternet hashtag to tell the world how the proposed legislation would impact them personally.

“RIP YOUTUBE..IT WAS FUN,” read one rather fatalistic reply to the post. Another comment worried that Article 13 would do “immense damage … particularly to smaller creators.”

The proposal has stirred considerable controversy in Europe and abroad, with critics claiming that the legislation would essentially ban any kind of creative content, ranging from memes to parody videos, that would normally fall under fair use.

Alphabet, the parent company of Google and YouTube, has opposed Article 13 for months. The measure was advanced in June by the European Parliament. A final vote on the proposed regulation is expected to take place sometime next year.

World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales have also spoken out against Article 13.

  • Published in World

Will Facebook ban subversive propaganda against Cuba?

Does Facebook have any notion regarding the sort of propaganda Radio Marti is trying to camouflage through its platform to Cuban internet users?

As I have warned in previous articles, and after being accused of allowing Russia to interfering in the 2016 presidential election, Facebook is being absorbed in a campaign to remove all the paid propaganda from its website.

The last attempt to improve its “unbiased” image occurred on Tuesday when the social network removed more than 650 websites, groups, and accounts identified as “inauthentic behavior,” according to its CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The “conspiracy” refuted by Facebook, according to the report delivered to the American authorities, was carried out from websites that were tracked to Iran and groups linked to operations of the Russian intelligence.

According to Facebook, the accounts —also in Instagram and owned by Facebook as well— the news that were presented as independent or by groups belonging to the civil society were actually working in coordinated efforts targeting users from UK, Latin America, Middle East, and the U.S.

The websites, in the words of Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher, were linked to state-owned media from Iran through the publicly available website registration information. Such is the case of Quest 4 Truth, which claims to be an organization independent from Iran media.

The vast majority of the removed accounts focused its activity range on the Near East and tried to manipulate public opinion on some U.S. policies and certain anti-Israeli, anti-Saudi Arabian stances. Similarly, they favor pro-Palestinians viewpoints.

The same source also confirmed in a news conference that Facebook removed a number of websites and accounts previously identified as Russian military services, and following the reports, they were unrelated to Iran.

The HuffPost revealed that this network had 813 000 accounts in Facebook and 10 000 in Instagram and spent around 6,000 USD in ads for Facebook between 2012 and April 2018.

In other words, according to Facebook latest policies, the removed networks were not only related to governments that Washington targets in its sanctions, but these countries also paid ads in order to spread their political propaganda.

So far, so good. Facebook assumes its right to host or not in its platform, paid political propaganda. The problem lays in discerning if the largest social network in the world can be consistent with its principles with other sort of “paid political propaganda.”

Of course we are referring to the kind of propaganda Facebook is using against Cuba. The later was recently confirmed in the budgetary documents for the tax years of 2018 and 2019 of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, released by the Miami New Times.

The document highlights that the U.S. government has plans to use Cuban “native” and “non-branded” accounts in Facebook to spread content created by the government without notifying Cuban users in Facebook:

Due to the Cuban blockade of Radio and TV Marti, the OCB digital strategy has turned to social networks. These consist of Facebook, YouTube, and Google which are the most visited in Cuba. By using AVRA technology, the Radio Marti programs became radio-visual and were broadcasted via Facebook Live along with the programming of TV Marti. It certainly gives the OCB and additional, efficient, and profitable distribution either for its radio-visual or TV content.

In the tax year of 2018, the OCB is creating digital devices in Cuba aiming for creating fake accounts in Facebook to spread information. The websites opened in the island increase the chances of reaching Cuban users in Facebook. The same strategy will be copycatted in other social networks.

According to the Miami New Times, the budgetary document suggests that the OCB (Office of Cuba Broadcasting) plans to spread American propaganda against Cuba to deceive users in Cuba and make them believe that the information is coming from other Cuban users, not from the Radio Marti headquarters.

Does Facebook have any notion regarding the sort of propaganda the OCB is trying to camouflage through its platform to Cuban internet users?

There is no doubt who are the ones paying for it. Since the 1980s, when the inappropriately called Radio Marti was created by the government of Ronald Reagan, such radio station has not stopped trying convey subversive propaganda against the Cuban Revolution either by radio or television; and recently by using new technologies. As the article states, the OCB created the text message service Piramideo (Pyramid), which could not “meet its goal of promoting dissent in Cuba” and for years managed to smuggle small satellite devices that could provide internet access until such smuggling was stopped in 2015 due to the excessive spending.

As we have said before, the hate speech against Cuba abounds in that social network and quoting the Miami New Times, Nasserie Carew, spokeswoman at the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, the Facebook project never “took off.” But honestly, that is a “weird answer” if we take into account the plan was linked to documents that account for the 2018-2019 budget.

It is also weird that Facebook, a social network that presents itself to the world as an independent enterprise, emerges as part of a dirty war against Cuba in a U.S. government document. Is Facebook part of the Task Force created last January by the Trump Administration, which according to the State Department, “will evaluate the technological challenges as well as the opportunities to widen the access to the Internet and the independent media in Cuba? And it will certainly find ways to spread the usage of social networks and the free Internet access in the island.

Although the spokesman of Facebook did not answer any of the questions on the subject, we may assume that the new subversive plans of the OCB against Cuba are not allowed by such social network by a simple reason, as noted by Professor John S. Nichols, from the Pennsylvania University, co-author of the book 1987 Clandestine Radio Broadcasting in his book:

"Third-party countries see what they’re doing and say, 'There goes the United States again doing that dumb stuff,'" he says. "It's small, mean, and not worthy of a great power. Other countries say, 'If the U.S. is willing to violate international law, why should we obey our treaty obligations?' I think that has a long-term negative effect. And given what Radio and TV Martí might doing right now, it becomes hard for us to complain about what other countries might be doing to us."

Suffice to say that amid such strong misinformation campaign Facebook is in, removing the subversive propaganda posted in its platform would increase the trust of its users for sure. Besides, it should not be complicated to achieve it if we take into account that the budget report of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors has saved Facebook time and resources in the investigation.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz // CubaSi Translation Staff

Cyberattacks Cost Australia Over $5 Billion Per Year

Cyberattacks cost Australian citizens and companies more than AU$7 billion ($5.09 billion) a year, according to the country''s prime minister on Thursday.

Malcolm Turnbull said that since 2016, the country's authorities have responded to more than 14,000 cybersecurity attacks by foreign nations or agencies.

Australia is increasingly threatened by cyber attack, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says, and it's time to saddle up.

Flanked by senior ministers from portfolios dealing with Australia's defence, Mr Turnbull cut the ribbon on a new, national cyber security centre on Thursday.

'All these increasing cyber attacks have the hallmarks of a perfect cyber storm,' Mr Turnbull told reporters and intelligence officials in Canberra.

'We must not and will not wait for a catastrophic cyber incident before we act to prevent future attacks.'

The new building for the Australian Cyber Security Centre houses sections for classified and unclassified operations.

The centre has already seen off 14,000 cyber security incidents since 2016, at a rate of more than 16 a day.

'Attempted attacks are occurring every day,' Mr Turnbull said.

The threat, Mr Turnbull said, was global with foreign governments among the most consistent offenders.

The global cost of cyber crime was estimated at $600 billion this year, with Australia's bill topping $7 billion.

The creation of the Home Affairs department, making the Australian Signals Directorate an independent agency and the launch of joint cyber security centres across the nation are all part of the government's cyber security plan.

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