Public relations campaign to Connect Cuba is seeking crowd source funding

The Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba has launched an Internet campaign, Connect Cuba. They are attempting to raise $34,950 for a the campaign on the crowd source funding site Indiegogo. They have raised $28,035 so far, and the campaign ends at midnight tonight.

If they meet their financial goal, they plan to produce a high quality campaign video about the current human rights situation in Cuba, launch it online, along with an original song currently being developed to inspire the international community in supporting the human rights movement in Cuba, sign an important global petition, and create global support for the human rights movement in Cuba.

update 10/27/2013

The Connect Cuba campaign on Indiegogo succeeded (barely) -- they raised $35,235 so will now produce a song and PR campaign.

Update 11/4/2013

Connect Cuba has given a rough description of their planned campaign. The flash drive distribution project sounds interesting -- what sort of material will be included? Will it be a one-shot distribution or an ongoing project with new content in each distribution?

Freedom House report on Cuba in "Freedom on the Net, 2013"

Freedom House has published their annual Freedom on the Net report. (I also summariezed the 2012 report). Cuban Internet freedom is ranked 59th of the 60 nations surveyed, using an index based on:
  • Obstacles to Access—including infrastructural and economic barriers to access, legal and ownership control over internet service providers (ISPs), and independence of regulatory bodies;
  • Limits on Content—including legal regulations on content, technical filtering and blocking of websites, self-censorship, the vibrancy/diversity of online news media, and the use of ICTs for civic mobilization;
  • Violations of User Rights—including surveillance, privacy, and repercussions for online activity, such as imprisonment, extralegal harassment, or cyber attacks.
Here are the controls in effect in the top and bottom five scoring nations:

The USA rank will probably drop next year, reflecting the recent revelations of the extent of NSA Internet surveillance. (For the full list of national controls click here).

While Cuba's low rating is not news, the report includes a concise, well-referenced essay on the state of the Cuban Internet. The statistical summary from the article is shown here:

The key developments for May 2012 – April 2013 were:
  • Cuba’s eagerly anticipated high speed ALBA-1 fiber optic cable, which was expected to increase data transmission speeds on the internet 3000 fold, was connected in early 2013; however, access was limited to select government offices rather than being extended throughout Cuba (see Obstacles to access).
  • The government imposed tighter restrictions on e-mail in the workplace, installing a platform that blocks “chain letters critical of the government” (see Limits on Content).
  • In 2012 and 2013, the government continued its practice of employing a “cyber militia” to slander dissident bloggers and to disseminate official propaganda (see Limits on Content).
  • Arbitrary detentions and intimidation of bloggers increased in late 2012 (see Violations of User Rights).
  • Travel restrictions were loosened in early 2013 and some high-profile bloggers, such as Yoani S├ínchez, were granted permission to leave Cuba for the first time in years (see Violations of User Rights).

Joining forces to advocate for a more affordable Internet

Posted by Jennifer Haroon, Access Principal

Imagine a world where you spent 30% of your monthly income on basic Internet service. Could you pay? What might you have to give up? For billions of people, these costs—and questions—are an unaffordable reality that stop them from accessing the Web.

Today, Google is joining more than 30 members to launch the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), a new coalition that cuts across boundaries of geography, sector, or size. Our goal? To help bring down Internet costs through policy change.

New technologies play a crucial role in bringing the Internet to more people worldwide—we’ve developed and invested in many of these big ideas over the years. We broke new ground with balloon-powered Internet access, are bringing broadband to Africa with TV White Spaces, and are funding organizations like the Internet Society to develop Internet Exchange Points in emerging markets.

These technologies can have major impact, but no single solution can connect the 5 billion people living without Internet access today. Policy change can help new innovation take hold and flourish; outdated policies can stifle progress. In Kenya and other markets that have adopted national broadband plans, policy change has delivered results, fast. A4AI will focus on those policy changes that can bolster new access technologies and initiatives and make the Internet more affordable to people worldwide.

Initiated by the World Wide Web Foundation, A4AI includes members from the technology, government, and nonprofit worlds, from developed and developing countries. Google—along with other Global Sponsors—joined the alliance in its early days to help establish the vision that exists today, as well as rally more members that share our mission for affordable Internet access.

A4AI has a specific goal in mind: to reach the UN Broadband Commission target of entry-level broadband access priced at less than 5% of monthly income worldwide. (According to the ITU, households in the developing world pay roughly 30% of monthly income for a fixed connection, so there’s a lot of work to do.) We’re working with A4AI on several initial projects, including:

  • Publishing a set of policy and regulatory best practices
  • Working directly with governments, with plans to engage with 10+ countries by the end of 2015
  • Releasing the first edition of an annual affordability report

Ultimately, A4AI is about making the world a more connected place. Over 90% of people in the 49 least developed countries are still not online. A4AI wants to help people in these countries to get access, to find a door to new information, opportunities, and ideas. Dr. Bitange Ndemo, the honorary chairperson of A4AI, has called for the need to remove “analog policies that are holding back the digital revolution” in emerging markets.

We couldn’t agree more.