,Cuba introduces its first cybersecurity law, a move critics say aims to limit political and civic freedoms on the Caribbean island. — AFP
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Cuba published on Tuesday its first cybersecurity law, a move critics dismissed as a tool to limit political and civic freedoms on the Caribbean island.
The law, published in the official Gaceta newspaper, comes just over a month after unprecedented anti-government protests broke out all over the country.
The subsequent government crackdown left one dead, dozens injured and hundreds arrested. Havana blamed the unrest on foreign powers manipulating its citizens through social media.
The legislation laid out online activities that constitute a crime, such as cyberterrorism, cyberwar, calls for public disturbances as well as spreading information that is deemed to be false or hurt the image of the state.
"For the first time the country will have a legal standard for cybersecurity incidents," Pablo Dominguez, the cybersecurity director at the Communications Ministry, told the official Cubadebate news website.
Jose Miguel Vivanco, the Americas director at Human Rights Watch, said the law would enable internet providers to cut off access based on the government's interpretation of fake news. "Cuba tightens the grip on the internet," he said.
The news provoked an immediate reaction from Cubans on social media. "We have the right to disagree and express it," complained user @SailydeAmarillo.
"Cuba is a dictatorship and is criminalising freedom of expression," tweeted Karly, a Cuban living in Costa Rica.
Mobile internet, which only arrived on the island nation in 2018, has quickly become crucial to citizens groups that want to express their frustrations and demands.
Last week, the government accused the United States of "aggression" after the US Senate adopted an amendment that would see Washington provide Cubans with internet access to help them circumvent Havana censorship.
Following the July 11 protests, the Cuban government cut internet access for five days after social media was used to spread the word about the historic demonstrations. – AFP