Cuba passed legislation treating “misinformation” as “cyberterrorism.”
The move comes weeks after widespread anti-government protests gripped Cuba, which made international news largely because of photos and videos posted to social media by Cubans on the island. Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel explained that the law “goes against misinformation and cyber lies.”
As Reuters reports about Decree 35:
The legislation bans the spread of false news or messages and content deemed offensive or which “incite mobilizations or other acts that upset public order.” It also provides a channel for Cubans to inform on potential contraventions.
Those who have attempted to “subvert the constitutional order” will be considered cyberterrorists. It does not say what the penalties will be for violations.
The legislation drew concern from American lawmakers — including Rep. Maria Salazar (R-FL), a Cuban-American. She said that “the Castro regime intends to criminalize posting on social media — but nothing is going to stop the people of Cuba and their determination to be free.”
🚨El Decreto Ley 35 es una ley mordaza para seguir censurando al cubano.
La dictadura Castrista pretende criminalizar el publicar en las redes sociales pero nada va a detener al pueblo de #Cuba y su determinación de ser libre.#NoAlDecretoLey35 #SOSCuba #PatriaYVida 🙏🏼🇨🇺🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/C2ZU0S3aRJ
— María Elvira Salazar 🇺🇸 (@MaElviraSalazar) August 20, 2021
“Gag law 35 means absolutely nothing,” she said in a video posted to Twitter. “Tyrants cannot put an entire people in jail — a people that is screaming for freedom.”
The English language site for Prensa Latina — Cuba’s state-sanctioned news outlet — marketed the law as “standard practice worldwide.”
The regulation typifies the different incidents and facts in the network environment such as cyberbullying, fake news, massive blocking of accounts in social networks, pornography, cyber terrorism, cyber war and social subversion.
Those provisions are not new in the world. In a resolution approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 31, 2020, regarding developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of national security, the entity notes, ‘States have the duty and the right to combat the dissemination of fake news.’
The Daily Wire previously reported that Cuba is relying upon Chinese technology to censor its citizens.
According to a report from the Open Observatory of Network Interference, the login portal for Etesca — the sole company in Cuba that provides internet access — “appears to have been written by Chinese developers, since its source code contains comments written in Chinese.” Etesca’s technology providers are Huawei, TP-Link, and ZTE — all of which are Chinese firms.
The Institute For War & Peace Reporting found that the Cuban government blocked Change.org — a site used to sign petitions — in 2019 during a “constitutional referendum when activists campaigning for a ban on ideological discrimination in universities used the platform to make their voices heard.”