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 Now

‘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.

 
© Xesai

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.

Cuba Ready to Begin Mobile Internet Services

The start day for this service is close in the Island, where at present there are more than 1 400 radio bases, 520 of them have a 3G coverage. By yearend the Nauta Hogar service would have reached about 52 thousand houses in the entire country.

All technical needs are already created in Cuba to provide mobile Internet services with quality and security, asserts Tania Velázquez, Vice-president for Business and Technology Strategy of the Cuban Telecommunications Company (ETECSA).

At the television program Round Table recently broadcasted about The Computerization of the Cuban Society, the ETECSA official said that it was an important premise to have the necessary technical needs. Therefore, “we ratify that in a near date we will be able to announce in this very program the premiere date for this service to begin”, she said.

Explaining a bit further the infrastructure created, she mentioned the platforms, the fundamental nodes of the network, as well as the radio base coverage. Radio bases in Cuba are more than 1 400 in the entire country, 520 of them have 3G coverage.

She explained that in the capital the coverage is almost complete, as well as in the main cities of the provinces, and they keep advancing in the rest of the country.

Velázquez remembered that in a prior Round Table ETECSA’s Executive President, Mayra Arevich had announced that in 2018 the commercialization of Internet service would begin in mobiles. This have been a priority for the company in the last two years.

As part of the preparation for the beginning of that necessary and demanded service, the vice-president invited the population to stay alert for some advice ETECSA will disclose in the next few days for a better use of the mobile network regarding navigation.

Among new things in the last years she mentioned the creation of the Nauta Hogar service. She reminded its beginnings in 2016 with a trial test in two districts of Old Havana and its ulterior development and expansion by late 2017. She said that at present more than 37 thousand Nauta Hogar services are working, 22 000 out of them installed this year.

She underlined that installation rate has increased and the company’s purpose is that this year it reaches around 52 thousand of these services in the entire country. To attain this purpose have been prioritized the places where a better infrastructure quality exist in order to guarantee the necessary excellence to the population that hires the service.

Nauta hogar is present today in 136 domestic municipalities, in 22% of the districts. A recent poll ran by ETECSA aimed at the level of satisfaction of clients with this service showed that “there is a quite good acceptance in this regard, although there are a few complaints regarding the prices, and reaching more places”, she explained.

Tania referred that two recommendations keep appearing: to encourage the recharge from abroad for this service –something the company is working on right now and that in coming months they will announce how to set it up, she said - and the selling of modems that can be used in a wireless environment, something that has already begun, she specified.

At the beginning of her talk, the vice-president remembered that telephone lines in the country, reach the total of 6,5 millions for a 58% of telephone density. Of the whole of lines, 5 millions 200 thousand are mobiles.

“We have had a huge leap forward in mobile telephony in the last years to get to more people with a more practical infrastructure”, she highlighted. More than a million 500 thousand Nauta mail users log in using their mobiles.

In addition, there are more than a million 700 thousand Nauta accounts which is one of the means – she explained – through which people access Internet.

Besides the services, Velázquez mentioned a group of projects developed in the last years among which is included the collective navigation rooms. If in year 2013 they were 118, located in the main cities of the provinces, right now they are up to 1 713 of those public areas accessing Internet, today present in every Cuban municipalities.

Wifi areas must be added on top of all these efforts. They surpass the 700 and thay have represented a mayor leap in the topic of connectivity. Furthermore they have earned great popular acceptance.

ETECSA has created more than 200 Wi-Fi rooms as an alternative, with greater comfort that the outdoor alternative, and also the more than 700 rooms located in third-party areas; that is, airports, hotels, and also health facilities, cultural, recreational centers and others.

Velázquez qualified as very important the work done in the last two years to take connectivity to entities, organizations, companies and to the different sectors of society to which communications play a key role in its informatization.

In this regard she commented on heavy investments deign made for the fiber optic infrastructure. This can improve the bandwidth and quality of connections of bodies like the ministries of Education and Higher Education, Justice and Banking System, among many others.

Also, Tania remembered among the breakthroughs that the entire enterprise data systems has strengthened, where companies can also host their contents and, among other possibilities, manage their own services in a safe environment.

Cubasi Translation Staff / Amilkal Labañino Valdés

Internet: Who Benefits from the U.S. Plans for Cuba?

A "task force" is a U.S. military term and defines a temporary unit settled to work in an operation or specific mission.

Following the guidelines outlined by president Donald Trump in his Presidential Memo of last June 16th, the U.S. government announced in late January the creation of a new Internet Task Force dedicated to subvert the internal order in Cuba.

According to the official statement issued by the Department of State, that Operative Group is made of government and non-government officials, with the objective of "promoting the free flow of information" in the neighboring Island.

Why aren’t we surprised? It’s because we Cubans will never forget our history. How to do so before machinery designed to manufacture subversive projects aimed at a “change of régime” and the permanent destruction of the Cuban Revolution?

For decades, along the United States –Cuba feud, sentences like to "work for the freedom of speech" and "expand the access to Internet in Cuba" has been used by Washington to mask destabilizing plans with the use of new technologies.

Zunzuneo

Certainly, these subversive plans are not new; they are from many years ago. Apparently, they present projects that might seem attractive, but in their core there is a meddling character, a cheating and subtle attempt of breaking the political system established in Cuba for more than half a century.

We Cubans know well that several North American agencies use the social networks as facades for the propaganda, the deceit, the massive messaging and the construction of fake stories. We already saw it in other countries of the world: in the first stage supposedly "regular" messages are sent like sport news, music and culture; and later they begin to introduce others with marked political content that encourage civil turmoil.

As for the files on the entities in charge of promoting the Internet Task Force against Cuba are scandalously shameful.

Internet: Who benefits from the U.S. plans for Cuba?

Certainly, it’s revolting that according to the official presentation, this group created by Washington has the task of analyzing "the technological challenges and the opportunities of widening Internet access in Cuba to help the Cuban people to enjoy a free and not regulated flow of information".

If the concern were true huge, why don't they explain that while a brutal and permanent media campaign tries to accuse the Cuban State of not increasing Internet service and other communication services; the United States blockade against Cuba prevents a greater and better access to Internet?

With many technological limitations, there’s a sovereign policy passed by the Cuban government that establishes the increasing computerization of society. There is still a long road ahead in the use of new technologies; but let nobody in Washington think that Cubans are a naïve people.

Internet: Who benefits from the U.S. plans for Cuba?

Cuba has repeatedly denounce that aggressions like these and other ways of unconventional war will never be able to stop the Cuban government's efforts to use new technologies seeking the common well-being, the economic, cultural and social development of its nation.

The new Internet Task Force dedicated to subvert Cuba’s domestic order is nothing but another chapter in the violent and shameful politics of the United States against the Cuban nation.

Washington put together this task force in a moment that firm steps are taken toward the computerization of society, with a vision that gives priority to the social access and protects Cuba’s sovereignty, despite the economic limitations.

As a sovereign decision, without conditions, or impositions, the Cuban government has reiterated that it will continue moving forward its strategy of computerization of society and the gradual increase of Internet access for the citizens.

ETECSA Enhances Connectivity to the Rest of the World with SES Networks

Cubans and visitors to Cuba will have additional access to reliable and uninterrupted connectivity throughout the main island of Cuba as ETECSA, Cuba’s national telecommunications operator, signed a deal with SES Networks for satellite services, SES announced today.

“Our unique network capabilities and suite of managed services allows ETECSA to guarantee their customers access to the best satellite internet technology available.”

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SES Networks will augment ETECSA’s existing terrestrial infrastructure with its high-performance fibre-like medium earth orbit (MEO) capacity and improve connectivity for end-customers of the Cuban operator.

“By working with SES Networks, we are ensuring that our customers across the main island will have a new way to access high-performing Internet at all times through this innovative satellite system. Our collaboration with SES Networks highlights ETECSA’s mission of providing telecommunications services that meet the current and future needs of Cuban citizens and our customers, as well as contributing to the country's socio-economic growth,” said Ing. Mayra Arevich Marín, executive president of ETECSA.

“The opportunity to work with organisations such as ETECSA that are consistently looking for ways to bring more reliable connectivity to their people is incredibly rewarding,” said Steve Collar, CEO of SES Networks. “Our unique network capabilities and suite of managed services allows ETECSA to guarantee their customers access to the best satellite internet technology available.”

ETECSA provides public telecommunications services throughout the territory of the Republic of Cuba.

  • Published in Specials

Internet is latest arena for U.S. intervention in Cuba

The State Department announced January 23 that it “is convening a Cuba Internet Task Force composed of U.S. government and non-governmental representatives to promote the free and unregulated flow of information in Cuba. The task force will examine the technological challenges and opportunities for expanding internet access and independent media in Cuba.”

The action was in line with President Trump’s memorandum in June 2017 on “Strengthening the Policy of the United States toward Cuba.” It conforms also with the Defense Department’s recently released “National Defense Strategy,” which indicates that “Today every domain is contested—air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace.”

In notes delivered to the U.S. embassy in Havana and to the State Department in Washington, Cuba’s Foreign Ministry rejected U.S. “pretensions of flagrantly violating Cuban sovereignty,” and demanded “again that the U.S. government end its subversive, meddling, and illegal actions which are attacks on Cuba’s stability and constitutional order.”

The task force is by no means an innovation. For decades the U.S. government has flooded Cuba with propaganda aimed at turning Cubans away from their government. With facilities on the Swan Islands, near the Honduran coast, the CIA’s Radio Swan began broadcasts to Cuba in 1960. The Reagan administration in 1981 set up a task force whose job was to prepare for broadcasts from Miami. Radio Martí commenced operations in 1985, TV Martí in 1990.

Under the authority of the Helms-Burton Law of 1996, which called for building a political opposition in Cuba, the Clinton administration expanded propaganda operations in order  “to open Cuba’s closed system and promote the growth of an independent civil society.” Changes in messaging would henceforth center on the internet.

U.S. agencies sought “to offer Cubans interactive access to materials from abroad” and to connect internet platforms in the United States with networks in Cuba. The U.S. Interests Section in Havana, precursor to the present embassy, offered courses to Cubans on managing the internet and blogs.

There were special projects. For example, the “ZunZuneo” scheme of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2009 sought to bombard Cuban young people with direct messages through a program similar to Twitter. The Office for Cuba Broadcasting mounted its “Piramideo” program through which in 2011 a contractor sent 24,000 text messages each week to Cubans, having immobilized Cuban barriers beforehand. “Project Commotion” provided specialized equipment for dissidents active on the internet, thus enabling them to communicate easily with supporters abroad.

Throughout the entire era of shifting modalities, millions of dollars in funding were dispersed among U.S. agencies charged with implementing the interventionist programs.

The Obama administration continued in the same vein. In the wake of its opening to Cuba in late 2014, the U.S. telecommunications industry gained approval for establishing commercial ties with Cuban enterprises. For almost all other sectors of the U.S. economy, commercial relations in Cuba remained off limits.

Of the $20 million the U.S. government was spending annually on winning friends in Cuba, Obama’s administration dedicated a large portion to digital projects. Speaking to the press on December 19, 2014 Obama extolled “the prospect of telecommunications and the Internet being more widely available in Cuba. [That] chips away at this hermetically sealed society.”

In a public event February 7, the State Department inaugurated its Cuba Internet Task Force. A press release indicated that, “the task force agreed to form two subcommittees, one to explore the role of media and freedom of information in Cuba, and one to explore Internet access in Cuba.” The task force, unbudgeted, will meet next in October to hear reports from the subcommittees and to make recommendations.

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs John S. Creamer chairs the group. Members include the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, responsible for operating Radio and TV Martí; the Federal Communications Commission, the telecommunications section of the Department of Commerce; USAID; and Freedom House.

Freedom House, ostensibly independent, in 2016 received 82 percent of its funding from the U.S. government. One expert holds that Freedom House has long served the CIA by providing foreign media with reports and analyses reflecting official U.S. perspectives.

At the meeting, according to a report, “several Cuban dissidents used a public comment period to lambast Cuba’s government, drawing comparisons to World War II and to the governments of Syria and Iran. Yet most of the public comments centered on a critique of a decades-old economic embargo and Trump’s policy toward Cuba.”

  • Published in Cuba
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