Cuban decree limits social media, sparks outrage

Cuba rolled out tighter controls on social media Tuesday that target “enemy activities” on the internet.

Decree 35 comes on the heels of the largest anti-government protests the island nation has seen in years.

Cuba’s President blamed last month’s demonstrations on an online campaign by U.S.-backed counter-revolutionaries.

The new controls ban the spread of false news, content deemed offensive or that "incite mobilizations or other acts that upset public order."

It also offers Cubans a form to report offenders.

Cuba's Vice-Minister of Communications took to state TV on Tuesday.

"In Cuba, the Internet is defended as a space for debate, exchange, reflection, expression, complaints, and proposals from the population. Decree 35 will demand an adequate, respectful, ethical, and truthful use of these communication channels."

Decree 35 does not specify penalties for breaking the law, but said any attempts to “subvert order” will be considered cyberterrorism.

Some analysts say the law’s vague definitions would allow the government to arbitrarily prosecute Cubans it considers dissidents.

Erika Guevara-Rosas is Amnesty International Director for the Americas.

"Once again, Cuba is seeking absolute control of Internet access and telecommunications and is also formalizing digital repression. It is seeking to limit the space where people can access information freely. Not only the access, but the exchange of information. It will be up to the authorities to determine what is false information and information that seeks to harm the government or against the constitutional precepts."

Cuba’s new law explicitly orders the state telecoms monopoly to suspend services to users who have violated Decree 35.

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