Rob Sequin | Havana Journal

A new ruling from OFAC regarding Cuban Assets Control Regulations, effective immediately, states that US companies can export certain services “incident to the exchange of personal communications over the Internet”.

This new action will allow Cuban citizens to access various instant messaging, blogging and social networking services based in the US. Cubans theoretically will have access to popular social networking services like Google’s Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft Hotmail and other personal communication services as long as the Cuban government allows their use.

On April 13, 2009, the President stated that the promotion of democracy and human rights in Cuba is in the national interest of the United States and is a key component of U.S. foreign policy in the Americas. The President announced an initiative to pursue these goals by, among other things, increasing the flow of information to the Cuban people.

Consistent with that initiative, OFAC is adding new § 515.578 to the CACR to authorize the exportation from the United States or by persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to persons in Cuba of certain services incident to the exchange of personal communications over the Internet, such as instant messaging, chat and email, social networking, sharing of photos and movies, web browsing, and blogging.

To qualify for this authorization, the services must be publicly available at no cost to the user.

This new policy “will foster and support the free flow of information—a basic human right,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin said in the statement.