The former GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush used Twitter on Sunday to ask Biden’s administration to engage the needed technology to restore internet service in Cuba, which has suffered blackouts since protests erupted over the last weekend, Fox News reports.
He pointed that technology exists to tear down Cuba’s cyberwall if President Biden is willing to use it, retweeting WSJ editorial on Havana’s attempt to stem protests by limiting internet access in certain areas of the country.
The restrictions to social media and messaging platforms on Cuba over the past week were confirmed by the global internet watchdog NetBlocks, saying in a statement that they’re likely to limit the flow of information from Cuba following the protests against the socialist government’s policies and rising prices.
Although the Cuban government ended the internet shutdown Wednesday, the service has been unreliable- a tactic that is not a new and has been used by other regimes facing unrest.
Several other US lawmakers have urged Biden in recent days to address connectivity issues on the island, with Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn saying the Biden administration must support the Cuban people in concrete ways.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said that time is of the essence since every day that the Cuban regime has to black out the truth is a day they can get the upper hand on this.
According to The Wall Street Journal’s piece, the question really is not if the US has the technology to restore Cuban internet but if the Biden administration has to political will to make such a move considering such move would break new ground on digital rights but face major technical and geopolitical hurdles.
After the Cuban government shut off access amid mass protests, President Biden said Thursday that he is considering establishing an internet source for the Cuban people, describing the island as a failed state. But according to the human rights group Freedom House, Havana would likely consider any effort to bring an unfiltered internet a violation of its sovereignty.
Freedom House said in its 2020 report that Cuban legal structure is not favorable to internet freedom, and the country lacks an independent judicial system that could counter regime’s efforts to suppress independent online activity.
According to Bloomberg, more than a million Cubans per day evade government blackouts of social media, such as Facebook, using an anti-censorship tool supported by the US government with software company Psiphon Inc. saying it has facilitated the transfer of over 600 terabytes of data from users in Cuba since July 11.
The Toronto-based nonprofit censorship-circumvention company uses proxy servers that disguise internet traffic so that it flies under the radar of many censorship methods and it has been funded by the Open Technology Fund, a US government nonprofit that aims to support global internet freedom technologies.