Nothing covert about ‘Cuban Twitter’ revelations

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iol scitech april 10 cuba internet REUTERS File photo: Zhanna Litvina - the head of Belarusian Association of Journalists, an independent media rights watchdog - said the new law is a new 'attack on freedom of speech.'

Havana - Cuban authorities on Wednesday unveiled plans to expand Internet access on the communist island in the wake of recent revelations about ZunZuneo, a clandestine US-sponsored social network known as the “Cuban Twitter.”

The US State Department acknowledged last week that the US had funded the communications platform in Cuba “to expand the space for Cubans to express themselves.”

The US stressed, however, that there was “nothing classified or covert about this programme,” which cost 1.2-million dollars and ended in 2012.

Cuba has now decided to expand its own Internet infrastructure. “Our idea is for no one to have to invent a service for our users,” said Daniel Ramos, head of security operations at the Cuban telephone company (Etecsa).

“The idea is for (Etecsa) to put in place as many connections as possible, to prevent these things from happening again.” The expansion would include increased Internet access in homes and through mobile phones, Cuban officials said.

They did not, however, provide a timeline. The government of Cuban President Raul Castro had previously said that Internet access would be increased.

Currently in Cuba only a few artists, government officials and foreign diplomats are allowed private Internet service in their homes. Cuba blames the US embargo of the island for infrastructure problems that make Internet access a luxury.

Cuban officials say they favour Internet use “for social purposes.” Dissidents and human rights organisations, on the other hand, say Internet access is restricted to curb access to information.

Web access in Cuba has improved in recent years with the emergence of Internet cafes, but it remains expensive for the average Cuban. - Sapa-dpa

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