I'm glad to see that this article makes reference to the Cuban government's
own internal restrictions on full internet access for its people.

The Obama administration's step-wise loosening and eventual abandonment of
the embargo will remove the Castro leadership's long-time excuses for lack
of freedom of expression on the island, and ultimately the Castro brothers'
last excuses to hold monopoly power. That will be interesting to watch and a
welcome development.


On Tue, Jun 2, 2009 at 10:30 PM, SAM ANDERSON <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> *Cuba Smolders Over Microsoft Messenger Withdrawal*
> By Andrea Rodriguez, AP
> 06/02/09
> *
> *
> *<<The move "is just the latest turn of the screw in the United States'
> technological blockade against the island," a technology writer said in an
> article published by state youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde.>>*
> Microsoft has nixed the use of its Messenger software in Cuba, stating that
> it's complying with U.S. sanctions against the Cuban government. . While the
> Cuban government uses Windows in its computers, it's making an effort to
> move toward free and open source software.
> Cuba criticized Microsoft on Friday for blocking its Messenger instant
> messaging service on the island and in other countries under U.S. sanctions,
> calling it yet another example of Washington's "harsh" treatment of Havana.
> The technology giant recently announced it was disabling the program's
> availability in Cuba, Syria, Iran, Sudan and North Korea to come into
> compliance with a U.S. ban on transfer of licensed software to embargoed
> countries.
> The move "is just the latest turn of the screw in the United States'
> technological blockade against the island," a technology writer said in an
> article published by state youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde.
> He called the ban on transfer of technology "a truly harsh violation" of
> Cuba's rights.
> *'Open, Diverse and Unimpeded' - and Embargoed*
> Messenger has been used on the island for a decade without Microsoft
> interference.
> Dharmesh Mehta, director of Windows Live Product Management at the Redmond,
> Washington-based company, said Microsoft "made the change late last year in
> connection with the last product release of Windows Live Messenger."
> "This is not a new change, but has only recently received attention," he
> said.
> He added that "Microsoft is one of several major Internet companies that
> have taken steps aimed at meeting their obligations to not do business with
> markets on the U.S. sanctions list."
> Mehta said that "Microsoft supports efforts to ensure that the Internet
> remains a platform for open, diverse and unimpeded content and commerce,"
> and that "governments should exercise restraint in regulating the Internet."
> Internet communications service Skype currently works in Cuba, but the
> government evidently has periodically blocked other similar services in the
> past -- sometimes including Messenger.
> Last month, the Obama administration announced it was lifting some U.S.
> restrictions on telecommunications with Cuba in an effort toward easing the
> island's isolation. It is unclear if those changes will affect the ban on
> export of licensed software.
> *Cutting Proprietary Ties*
> Cuba has been criticized for its own restrictions on Internet technology.
> Although many islanders have access to e-mail through schools, workplaces
> and post offices, government restrictions keep most citizens from unfettered
> access to the Web. Officials say the island does not have enough bandwidth
> to allow universal access.
> Cuba's Internet connection comes via satellite from faraway countries such
> as Italy and Canada, and Havana complains that the U.S. embargo prevents it
> from obtaining better service through underwater cable.
> The government uses filters on th e islandwide intranet to block pages that
> contain pornography .
> Despite restrictions on U.S. licensed software, the Cuban government
> employs Windows operating systems and other Microsoft programs on many of
> its computers. However, it is working toward replacing them with open source
> programs.
> During a media tour of Raul Cepero Bonilla technology high school in the
> capital, students and teachers this week touted the benefits of open source
> software.
> "Open software is comfortable, free, easy to modify and public,"
> 15-year-old student Anette Camacho said.
> Teacher Alain Tourino said Cuba should use only open software so it isn't
> bound to the rules and decisions of U.S. technology companies.
>  2009 Associated Press

Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
Boston University

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