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Cuba increases state control over online activities

Havana - State control over citizens' Internet activities has been expanded after the extraordinary protests against the authoritarian regime.

According to a decree and other new regulations that were published on August 17th in the official gazette of the socialist Caribbean state, among other things the call in electronic media for "mobilizations and other acts that change public order" will be classified as a cybersecurity incident.

The interior and communications ministries as well as the armed forces should therefore monitor possible hostile and criminal acts in cyberspace, "neutralize" them and, if necessary, impose penalties. In the category of "ethical and social damage", the list of "incidents" classified as highly dangerous also includes: "Dissemination of false news, insulting news, slander with an impact on the reputation of the country".

On July 11th, thousands of Cubans had spontaneously demonstrated in numerous cities for freedom, against oppression and an economy of scarcity. There had been no such protests in the island nation for decades. The authoritarian government spoke of the violent unrest that the United States had instigated to divide the Cubans. Security forces violently broke up the demonstrations and arrested hundreds of people.

Internet access, which is already restricted by censorship on the island, has been temporarily blocked. Government opponents had exchanged views on the protests on social media. The US government said it was looking into ways to make it easier for Cubans to access the Internet. Some Cuban Twitter users condemned the new rules as an attack on freedom of expression and an attempt to silence critics.

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