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Monday, July 24, 2017

Did Google censor Rosa Maria Payá and Cuba Decide in Cuba to satisfy their partners in the dictatorship?

Google's evil collaboration with the Castro regime

Free Cuba Foundation has been warning that Google's engagement with the Castro regime would run afoul of their "Don't Be Evil" code of conduct. On September 13, 2016 we explained that the internet is not a panacea and that Google was making choices that would not help Cuban democrats. On December 12, 2016 Google signed an internet deal with the Castro regime placing the company's technology in the hands of the dictatorship's telecommunications monopoly ETECSA. Rosa Maria Payá tweeted on July 22, 2017 that CubaDecide was banned in Cuba, describing it as "the error with which google joins censorship in Cuba." 

This led to a flurry of tweets about the question of censorship and Google in Cuba. Mary O'Grady tweeted the following the same day.

Michael Weissenstein of the Associated Press replied that it wasn't Cuba but U.S. regulations.
 BrettPerlmutter of Google quoted the Weissenstein tweet and doubled down.
Former Bush Administration official Jose Cardenas contested Weissenstein's claim.
 Marta Dhanis, a news correspondent, who visited Cuba in January of 2017 to see first hand if there has been an improvement in internet access found that it continues to be "extremely limited."  She  talked to Cubans inside the island and in the article titled "Google entering Cuba is 'Trojan Horse' that could reinforce regime, residents say" quoted an academic who pointed out some of the drawbacks:
“We call the internet a ‘Trojan Horse.’ The success of this government has been possible thanks to the people’s lack of information,” said a 57-year-old retired professor who requested anonymity for fear of retribution by the communist regime. “I would have a patrol car at my door tomorrow to monitor my life,” he said. On the other hand, he and others contend, this Trojan Horse is also providing the communist regime with technology that will empower the secret police with detailed reports of the users’ searches and profiles, right down to their location.
Google in Cuba has collaborated with the Cuban intelligence services and the Castro regime's tech monopoly ETESCA is blocking the e-mails of the Ladies in White. This led a coalition of Cubans to condemn Google at a gathering in Puerto Rico in 2016, But what is feared with this deepening of relations between Google and the Cuban dictatorship is a scenario that has already been played out in China where dissidents were rounded up, some jailed, and some tortured with the aid of American technology companies like Yahoo.

In 2006 Amnesty International released a report exposing the practices of American tech companies including Google titled "UNDERMINING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IN CHINA. THE ROLE OF YAHOO!, MICROSOFT AND GOOGLE."  In the report Amnesty International stated that  "Google has come closest to acknowledging publicly that its practices are at odds with its principles."

FCF is also concerned that like in the case of China which hacked and stole Google user data the same could happen to Cubans that speak out against the regime. Having servers in Cuban territory gives intelligence agencies unfettered access to servers, methods and technology they can now steal, making this bad for shareholders and U.S. interests.
Sadly eleven years later history may be repeating itself. 

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