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.

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Diaz-Canel announces national workshop on computerization of society

Miguel Diaz-Canel, President of the Councils of State and Ministers, announced on Twitter that the Second National Informatization and Cybersecurity Workshop will be held later this week.

On the 17th and 18th, the Second Workshop on Informatization and Cybersecurity will be held, in which the progress of the Informatization Program, Electronic Government, the use of Social Networks, the work of the Cuban Union of Informaticians (UIC) and other related topics will be discussed, the Cuban president tweeted.

The organizers of the event informed the press that the workshop will take place at the University of Informatics Sciences, in this capital, and will be attended by officials of the Ministry of Communications, the business system and local governments, as well as research centers and universities.

The program that has transcended so far includes among the activities an exchange on good practices in institutional management of social networks, the current state of cybersecurity in the country and the main results of the implementation of government policy for the computerization of society.

The meeting will also address the march of e-government with an evaluation of the impact of its first stage (Presence) and the projections to reach the second (Interaction) of the four conceived in this initiative.

During the closing day, a diagnosis of the websites of the territorial governments will be presented, as well as the main applications and capacities of the country's IT solutions development entities.

The Cuban computerization process goes beyond strengthening access to the Internet; it also includes a program to expand electronic payment channels, and a gradual migration to digital television, among other aspects. (ACN)

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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.

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Cuba: Computerization with an eye on the citizen (+ Infography)

The computerization process of Cuban society consolidates and marked a standard for our economic and social development in the year that has just concluded.

At the end of 2017, Wilfredo González, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Communications (MINCOM), reiterated that there’s no limitation from the political point of view for Cubans’ access to the Internet, but a willingness to increase both their access and the basic products and services that use new technologies for the benefit of the population.

He explained that the Policy for the Computerization of the Society approved last February is transversal, requires a national plan and therefore, the responsibility of several national bodies and entities, not only from the MINCOM, governing body that directs the resources of the country towards prioritized bodies and projects. “Within that plan we have 21 projects, which have a general scope (…) There started a computerization process of the public records of the country, a process that is run by the central body, that is, the Ministry of Justice, which we must boost together with the MINCOM (…); in the end, we are talking about the procedures and services for the population.”

“Granma Province, he claims, is a good example of what can be done to computerize a group of services with an eye on the citizen, such as the request of a birth certificate, a marriage certificate, or others offered by the Provincial Office of Justice and that are available in the Internet environment, because at least in this first part of the procedure, the citizen can request it via the digital space, in a website. This is, however, a complex process, because it requires an important organizational design in order to introduce technologies later.”

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The Cuban vice minister highlighted the effort of the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA) in terms of institutional connectivity, as a basis for the computerization of the country and how it is working with national entities, Central State Administration bodies and Software development enterprises in creating conditions and infrastructure capacity. This is a step that allows processes that are computerized within these entities not only to benefit them, but the population as well.

He also praised high-impact projects, such as, the Surfing Rooms opened in 2013 and the so-called public WiFi networks in 2015. “This is a project that is worth highlighting, because we will continue developing it in the coming years and in my opinion it also handles a concept, that is, the concept of sharing and not excluding, as an imperative of our society, of our Revolution.”

According to the deputy minister of the Ministry of Communications, it has been necessary to organize and build more infrastructures for the creation of digital contents and there are outstanding actors in that process, such as the Youth Computer and Electronics Clubs across the country or CubaEduca Portal, of the Ministry of Education (MINED), positive experiences that have been widely accepted and that should continue expanding in 2018.

ETECSA: A main axis for development

As Wilfredo González states, the Telecommunications Company of Cuba continued the expansion of its services in the year that has just concluded, dynamically inserting itself into the computerization process and establishing itself as main axis for the development of society as a whole.

In conversation with Mayra Arevich, ETECSA executive president, she reiterated the priority the company grants to the individual wellbeing and development of Cubans. She said that 600,000 mobile phone lines have been activated in 2017 alone, for a total of 4.5 million in the country and works are underway to surpass 50 percent of telephone density with this service.

There are already more than 500 public WiFi hotspots in all municipalities and the marketing of the highly demanded Nauta Home service began last September 9, with more than 11,000 accesses now.

ETECSA worked on the expansion of other services linked to important institutional networks that later become welfare for the population: all universities were connected and their bandwidth was increased by high reliability fiber optic link; the connection to the most important hospitals of the country with their medicine faculties was completed and it was extended to more than 200 polyclinics and 190 pharmacies, 50 of them in the capital.

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For 2018, Mayra Arevich announced the expansion of the access of the educational sector at all levels, the start of Internet marketing via cell phone and the collection and payment gateway jointly with the National Bank of Cuba –what is known in the world as Mobile Bank– so customers can pay for such services as water, electricity, telephone itself, among others, via their cell phones.

“We have a high commitment with the mission the Revolution has given us with telecommunications development, of being able to contribute to the development of the country and the wellbeing of the population. (…) This is a sector that progresses very quickly and there’s a high commitment with the people”, she stated.

The computer of the Cuban family is boosted

The more than 600 Youth Computer and Electronics Clubs (JCCE) that are scattered throughout the country continued bringing the use of new technologies closer to the Cuban family in 2017. Thus, there stood out products like “Mochila” (Backpack), an important entertainment option that operates as a non-traditional TV cannel and that can be acquired in all Youth Clubs facilities free of charge.

The collaborative Encyclopedia Ecured consolidates today as Cuba’s best positioned website on both web 2.0 and the main Internet search engines, and continues to provide universal knowledge in dominium.cu to the largest possible number of customers with a current rate of 250,000 to 300,000 daily visits.

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For its part, “Reflejos” (Reflections) platform, blog creation space with almost 4000 active blogs, more than 23,000 users and 300,000 daily visits, continued providing a large amount of content to Red Cuba (Cuba Network) based on our identity, interests, tastes and demands of the society.

According to Danays Moreno, director of Youth Clubs Programs, the main challenges of these facilities that are celebrating 30 years of their creation, focused on the community and the family, are the modernization of this national network and the continuous boosting of the products that are offered and to make them sustainable over time.

Other important actors of the process: the University of Computer Sciences (UCI) and the Union of Computer Specialists of Cuba (UIC)

The University of Computer Sciences reached its 15th anniversary in 2017 and celebrated it with more than 14,000 high-profile graduates in the area of computing. More than 50 percent of all computing graduates of the country have graduated from this university, created by Cuban Revolution leader Fidel Castro with the idea that all the country’s territories were represented there.

“We are now in a better position to provide services with an eye on citizens jointly with entities, (…) to take that step more visible, more noticeable by Cubans, and that has to do with infrastructure issues, but we’re in better conditions, along with the institutions, which we’re working with, because we have cleared a path within the institution, in information management. Now, we should continue to consolidate the offers and services to the population”, Rosado specified.

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This year, the Union of Computer Specialists of Cuba has consolidated too and now has more than 8,000 members across the national territory. For its president, Aylin Febles, the entity has achieved important socialization, exchange and learning spaces based on a system of activities carried out throughout the country, has identified more than 100 applications that could have been developed by the individual initiative of a technology professional, private workers, universities, technology companies or from any other sector, but there is already a bank that can be made available for the computerization process.

Regarding the insertion of non-state workers, Febles claimed this is a small force within the UCI, but there are many projects that can be developed from their innovating ideas and an organization that listens to them, gives them prominence and facilities to insert themselves into this process together with other Cuban organizations and institutions. “The biggest challenge for 2018 is that every UIC member has a task, has a mission given by the organization and feels summoned to contribute to the computerization process.”

Present and future challenges

“In 2018, the computerization process of Cuban society will enter, undoubtedly, a higher phase. The application of the policy approved in the cybersecurity field will be an important challenge to protect not only the benefits of the Revolution, but also the data of Cuban citizens who access the Internet”, stated Wilfredo Gonzalez, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Communications.

In terms of access capacity, content development and digital services, the deputy minister considers it is necessary to seek greater affordability of the population, a much more agile organization of the process and to work on what constitutes today the main barrier Cubans have, and not only those of our country, but also those from Latin America: the absence of a relevant digital content in the networks.

Citizen participation as part of a principle of the Socialist Revolution, through the so-called e-government is another big challenge, so that citizens can suggest, share and form part of the process of socio-economic construction of the country, by means of their interaction with territorial bodies and governments via online.

Import substitution and export stimulation is something in which we also have to make progress as long as the industry inserts itself into the process –and not only through the state enterprise– to position a larger number of digital services in the Internet environment in our country and to reorganize the industry of computer applications.

“I think this is even a duty we have with the Commander in Chief, with the view the Commander in Chief had regarding this industry”, the Cuban DM summed up.

Cuba progresses in the safe computerization of society, aware that the Internet era and new technologies should be a learning space, with firm development steps, inclusive and safe in order to guarantee the invulnerability of the Revolution, the defense of culture and the prosperous and sustainable socialism that our people are building.

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Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

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