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[liberationtech] Telecommunications to Cuba in New Policies
ellery.biddle at gmail.com
Wed Dec 17 17:33:58 PST 2014
The Cuba team at Global Voices (essentially me and Elaine Diaz) is hoping
to do a series of stories intended to keep this on peoples' radars and put
strong, accurate information into circulation about what US policy changes
can/cannot accomplish with respect to tech and Internet access in Cuba.
Important to remember that no US company (tech or otherwise) will be able
to set up shop there without doing really rigorous negotiating with the
Cuban government. So there are two hurdles for companies -- the USG
restrictions, whatever they are at this stage, and then those set by the
GOC. I find myself wondering if this is what Eric Schmidt was doing there
The financial piece here is also really important to follow, I think.
Although a lot of what Obama laid out today was actually somewhat
preliminary and short on detail, he very explicitly stated that US credit
cards would now be accepted in Cuba. This is a HUGE deal. So assuming this
is all real (I am still in slight disbelief), the influx of capital there
is going to increase rapidly, and thus so will the quantity of hardware and
tech objects ranging from computers and mobile phones to things as simple
as pen drives, which all have a big impact on the circulation of
information on the island.
The last question, and the one that scares me the most, is: What happens to
all the shady USG "democracy promotion" programs there? I hope the USG
pulls the plug on these ASAP, but I doubt they will. These programs support
all kinds of activities, but the tech-related ones for me seem especially
damning as they reinforce the idea that the Internet is a tool of the USG,
that technology is a tool of subversion, etc. Maybe there's some advocacy
to be done around this.
It would be great to hear from those of you who have spent significant
amounts of time in Cuba or done research on tech issues there -- I'd be
keen to start a little thread with individuals working on these topics so
that we can share ideas, facts, help avoid spread of misinformation, etc.
Feel free to ping me and/or Collin if you're interested.
On Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 2:32 PM, Collin Anderson <collin at averysmallbird.com>
> Dear Libtech,
> In case this was lost in the news of rapprochement with Cuba, a central
> aspect of the new policy includes new authorizations on the export of
> information technology and connectivity. There is no clear guidance or
> legal framework as of yet, but these should be forthcoming in the next few
> *Initiating new efforts to increase Cubans’ access to communications and
> their ability to communicate freely-*
> - Cuba has an internet penetration of about five percent—one of the
> lowest rates in the world. The cost of telecommunications in Cuba is
> exorbitantly high, while the services offered are extremely limited.
> - The commercial export of certain items that will contribute to the
> ability of the Cuban people to communicate with people in the United States
> and the rest of the world will be authorized. This will include the
> commercial sale of certain consumer communications devices, related
> software, applications, hardware, and services, and items for the
> establishment and update of communications-related systems.
> - Telecommunications providers will be allowed to establish the
> necessary mechanisms, including infrastructure, in Cuba to provide
> commercial telecommunications and internet services, which will improve
> telecommunications between the United States and Cuba.
> *Collin David Anderson*
> averysmallbird.com | @cda | Washington, D.C.
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Ellery Roberts Biddle
global voices advocacy
ellery.biddle on GTalk | D82A2445 9C3B8F2F F8432A36 5BFEA406 88B8C2D9
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