Cubans use a Wi-Fi hot spot. (EFE photo via Martinoticias.com)
Internet Freedom remains almost nonexistent in Cuba, despite "modest steps" to increase the public's access, according to a new Freedom House report on internet freedom around the world.
Out of 65 countries surveyed, Cuba's score based on several factors was tied with Uzebekistan with the fifth-lowest. (Scoring lower were, from bad to worse, Ethiopia, Iran, Syria and China.)
The scores cover developments between June 2015 and May 2016.
"Despite modest steps to increase internet access, Cuba remains one of the world’s most repressive environments for information and communication technologies," Freedom House said.
None of this should be a surprise to anyone familiar with the nature of the Castro dictatorship. But it belies the notion that the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with the United States and other developments have brought real change the country.
The fact remains that internet freedom, like other forms of freedom, remains endangered in Cuba.
Freedom House gave countries a score of between 0 and 100, with a higher score meaning less freedom.
Cuba's score of 79 was made up three parts: obstacles to access, 21 of 25; limits on content, 26 of 35; and violation of users' rights, 32 of 40.
Freedom House noted several key developments in Cuba during the study period:
- Despite the Cuban government's launching of its first-ever paid Wi-Fi hotspots, the limited and expensive connections still constitute a major barrier.
- The Cuban government has not responded to efforts by Google and other U.S. firms to offer services on the island, in the wake of the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Washington.
- The Castro dictatorship continues to censor, intimidate and arrest bloggers and independent journalists.
- Despite the repression, Cubans have launched several independent web-based information sites.
Read the full report on Cuba here.