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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

Librarians’ deep concern over Cuba’s move to restrict Internet access

Posted January 19, 2004 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
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IFLA HQ | The Hague | Netherlands

“While the World Summit of the Information Society was debating how best to improve access to information using information technology, the Cuban government was preparing a law that will further restrict Internet access for its citizens”, says the Chair of the IFLA/FAIFE Committee Mr Paul Sturges.

Today, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and its Committee of Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (IFLA/FAIFE) expressed their deep concern about the continuing violations of the basic human right to freedom of access to information and freedom of expression in Cuba.

This concern is shared by international organisations such as Amnesty International and Freedom House, New York.

With the new Internet bill (Resolution 180/2003) that came into effect on 10 January the Cuban government will gain further control over Internet use. Before the bill was passed the government already had taken measures to block various Internet sites and restrict general access to the Web. Despite these restrictions, many Cuban citizens have nevertheless been able to seek and exchange information via the Internet using borrowed or purchased equipment and accounts. For them access to the Internet will now be even more difficult and expensive. The new bill will especially affect those who without authorisation have accessed the Web from their homes The bill states that the Internet can be used only via telephone services charged in U.S. dollars, which few people can get hold of. Also Cubans who have an authorisation must now seek additional approval to use the regular phone lines. Misuse will be detected as the Cuban telephone company is now authorised to “detect and impede access to Internet navigation services”. Resolution 180/2003 states that the law is needed to “regulate dial-up access to Internet navigation service, adopting measures that help protect against the taking of passwords, malicious acts, and the fraudulent and authorised use of this service.”

Intellectual freedom is a core value of the library and information profession worldwide; we would therefore support the Cuban library community in safeguarding and implementing the principles of the IFLA Internet Manifesto.

Once again, IFLA and its worldwide membership urge the Cuban Government to respect, defend and promote the basic human rights defined in Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We urge the Cuban Government to eliminate all obstacles to access to the Internet imposed by its policies.

Sources

Amnesty International press release of 13 January 2004
Freedom House, New York press release of 12 January 2004
Wired News/Associated Press 9 January 2004
BBC News 11 January 2004

In a press release issued on 13 January, Amnesty International states: “The new measures… constitute yet another attempt to cut off Cubans’ access to alternative views and a space for discussing them,” “This step, coming on top of last year’s prosecution of 75 activists for peacefully expressing their views, gives the authorities another mechanism for repressing dissent and punishing critics.” Amnesty International “fears that the new measures are intended to prevent human rights monitoring by restricting the flow of information out of Cuba”.

Also Freedom House, New York expresses its concern with regards to Cuba in a press release of 12 January “Democracy should be on the Americas Summit agenda”: “Restrictions worsened in Cuba last week when the government announced even tighter controls over Internet use. Private citizens, who were already banned from legally accessing the Internet at home, now suffer increased government monitoring of their telephone lines in an attempt to crack down on illegal Internet surfing.”

IFLA and its worldwide membership support, defend and promote intellectual freedom as expressed in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This intellectual freedom encompasses the wealth of human knowledge, opinion, creative thought and intellectual activity.

Background

IFLA/FAIFE made representation to the Government of Cuba in 1999 in regard to freedom of access to information. This was preceded and followed by a number of investigations, consultations and reports
A Resolution was adopted at the IFLA Council meeting held at Boston, USA on Friday 24th August 2001
Press release 8 May 2003: Intellectual Freedom in Cuba
Press release 12 June 2003: IFLA calls on US allow visits and information to and from Cuba
IFLA

IFLA is an independent, international, non-governmental organisation representing the interest of libraries, librarians and the users of libraries worldwide. Founded in 1927, it now has members in over 150 countries, representing hundreds of thousand of library and information staff. IFLA is accredited by a number of United Nations agencies, including UNESCO with whom it enjoys Formal Associate Relations.

FAIFE - an IFLA Core Activity

FAIFE is an initiative within IFLA to defend and promote the basic human rights defined in Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The FAIFE Committee and Office further freedom of access to information and freedom of expression in all aspects, directly or indirectly, related library and information services.

FAIFE monitors the state of intellectual freedom within the library and information community worldwide, supports IFLA policy development and cooperation with other international human rights organisations, and responds to violations of freedom of access to information and freedom of expression.

Contacts:

Mr Paul Sturges, Chair of the IFLA/FAIFE Committee
Professor, Deputy Head of Department of Information Science Loughborough University Leicestershire, UK
Tel.: +44 (0) 1509 228069, Fax: +44 (0) 1509 223053
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Ms Susanne Seidelin, Director, IFLA FAIFE Office
Copenhagen, Denmark
Tel: +45 32 341532 Fax: +45 32 840201
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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