HAVANA, Cuba. – One of the first measures to be enforced by the Cuban state to try to stop coordination of anti-government protests in the country, was to block access to the Internet.
VPN applications (Virtual Private Network) like Psiphon, Bunny VPN, 1111, among others, have been very helpful in enabling people to fight against the regime’s imposed censorship during the last week in the island.
Disinformation and an extremist official discourse on radio and television have been the strategies that the authorities have followed. They still have not un-blocked access to social media networks or to the Internet.
CubaNet has been able to corroborate that messages that include SMS texts with the words Psiphon or VPN are being blocked and do not reach the intended recipient.
“They are employing filters to block SMS messages in order to stop the use of VPN applications. [The authorities] know that they constitute a way to circumvent Internet censorship, and especially censorship of social media networks; the authorities fear this alternative access at this time because of the convening power that they exert,” an ETECSA mobile-network user commented to CubaNet on condition of anonymity.
The source added: “It’s not the first time that this has happened. As users, we know that we are exposed and have no privacy. On other occasions, words like “human rights” and “hunger strike”, among others, also have been filtered by ETECSA, and messages never reached their intended recipients.”
Eduardo Gómez, a computer scientist in Havana, stated to CubaNet: “In the last few hours, I have seen many posts on Facebook, especially by Cuban cyber-spies, threatening people who are using VPN applications with the cancellation of their connections by ETECSA. I believe this is “fake news” that the authorities have gotten out there in their desperate struggle against VPN applications and their great ability to circumvent Internet interference at this time. They would have to cancel millions of lines, and they cannot do that.”
Psiphon uses VPN, SSH and proxy HTTP technologies to provide uncensored access to Internet content.
The platform, which this Friday reported more than one million visits per day from inside Cuba, has become one of the paths to access the Internet after the regime blocked access to social media in the wake of last Sunday’s massive protests.
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