“They have cut off access to the Internet and we are testing whether we have the technical capability to restore this access,” the U.S. president said Thursday in response to requests from Senator Marco Rubio and Florida Governor Ron Desantis. To the Cubans.
While human rights defenders have welcomed the idea, experts say setting up such an alternative Internet network is not easy.
“If the Cuban government cuts off access (to the Internet), there is no easy and accessible way to reconnect via balloons or drones,” said Milton Mர்ller, a professor at Georgia University of Technology and director of the Internet.
Technologies for providing Internet access via satellite, drone or balloon are actually still in their infancy and are only implemented by official phone operators when they are implemented.
Mobile internet has been recovering on the island since Wednesday, but AFP reporters noted that some apps, such as Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp, were inaccessible without going through a VPN (virtual private network).
Caspar Bisanu, an NGO called Access Now, which protects the rights of Internet users, said Cuban officials were also filtering online content through Chinese technologies.
“They cancel people’s access to mobile data by suspending SIM cards, censoring hashtags and blocking messages referring to VPNs,” he lists.
Sovereignty and human rights
As for Havana, the Independent House of Human Rights Association has said that it is violating Cuban sovereignty by providing its population directly to the Internet with the aim of boycotting its services abroad.
The NGO explained in its 2020 report that “Cuban law is not conducive to freedom of the Internet” and “prohibits the use of the Internet to destabilize and destabilize sovereign nations.”
But those campaigning for a free Internet in Cuba believe that a state’s sovereignty will not allow it to interfere with the freedom of expression and access to information represented by the World Wide Web.
“The Internet is a fundamental human right in the digital age because it is essential for work, public services, political discourse and communication in general,” says Darrell West, a researcher at the Center for Technological Innovation in Brookings. Company.
“Since Cuba is a dictatorial country, it is a fair game for the United States to grant its remote Internet access, and its government has reduced this service that its citizens previously had access to,” he says.
Sebastian Argos, deputy director of the Cuban Research Institute at the International University of Florida, said “the Cuban government has misused the notion of sovereignty to oppress its people.”
So restoring the Internet to Cubans would be “justifiable from a moral point of view, if possible,” Milton Mர்ller said.
Nevertheless, it is problematic “considering the history between the United States and Cuba”, including the 1961 attempt to invade Pix Bay and the long occupation of the island by the military. American, he adds.
In addition, he concludes that such an alternative offered by Washington would “strengthen the opposition of the Cuban government and give it an excuse to see a kind of US-led imperialist action.”
Therefore, access is now content to call on Cuba to fully re-establish the connection, which, according to Caspar Pisanu, has set aside the alternative of the Internet provided by the Americans.
“We have to make a request and request to the Cuban government again, to allow them access to the Internet again, which should be at the top,” he said. Going further “will require extensive geopolitical analysis and considerations.”