Washington - U.S. Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL), along with Florida colleague Bill Nelson (D-FL), Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) this week sent a letter to President Obama asking him to clearly stipulate that U.S. telecommunications firms cannot engage in any activities that would suppress or violate the human rights of the Cuban people.
"Unfiltered information and privacy are fundamental components of freedom," said Senator Martinez. "We have already seen complicity between U.S. companies and the Chinese government in restricting Web access and identifying Internet-using government critics. Let's lay the groundwork now so that the same can't happen in Cuba."
"History has taught us that repressive governments have used new technology to suppress freedoms," said U.S. Senator Bill Nelson. "We need to make certain Cuba's officials won't monitor and police the Cuban people when they use the Internet, for example."
"In any new telecommunications regulations related to Cuba, the administration must make it clear that profiting off the continued oppression of others cannot be allowed," said Senator Menendez. "Compliance by telecommunications firms in censorship or suppression of information merely tightens the Castro regime's iron stranglehold on basic human rights that the Cuban people deserve."
The letter to President Obama notes that on August 8, 2006, a Human Rights Watch report detailed how U.S. telecommunications companies have provided the identity of Internet users to Chinese authorities, resulting in the imprisonment of four Chinese government critics. The Administration is currently writing new regulations pursuant to the 1992 Cuba Democracy Act. The senators request that regulations authorizing telecommunications links with Cuba include a list of prohibited activities including providing the Cuban government with data or IP-address information that could reveal the identity of individual users, creating a separate infrastructure for tourists, and providing any equipment, software, or technical expertise that would enable the Cuban government to block Internet applications or content.
Click here toread the letter.