Network data from NetBlocks confirm partial disruption to social media and messaging platforms in Cuba from 12 July 2021. The targeted restrictions are likely to limit the flow of information from Cuba following widespread protests on Sunday as thousands rallied against the socialist government’s policies and rising prices. The incident continued until Sunday 18 July 2021.
NetBlocks metrics show that communications platforms WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and as well as some Telegram servers have been disrupted on government-owned ETECSA (Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba, S.A. / AS27725) including Cubacel, the cellular network operated by Cuba’s sole telecommunications company. Access to the YouTube streaming platform and Google Video servers has also subsequently been limited. Findings corroborate user reports of disruptions to the services.
Confirmed: Social media and messaging platforms restricted in #Cuba from Monday on state-run internet provider ETECSA; real-time network data corroborate reports of internet disruptions amid widening anti-government protests; incident ongoing 📵#CubaSOS
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) July 12, 2021
NetBlocks internet performance metrics from 50 observation points from 12 July 2021 confirm that the listed online platform backend and frontend servers have become partially or fully unavailable on fixed and cellular lines in Cuba, corroborating widespread user reports.
VPN services, which can work around internet censorship, remain effective for many users at the time of writing.
A brief, partial return of service was observed on Thursday afternoon local time, however the restoration was not sustained:
⚠️Update: Real-time network data confirm social media and messaging platforms including Facebook and WhatsApp are again restricted in #Cuba on state-run internet provider ETECSA after brief period of restoration on day four; incident ongoing 📵#SOSCuba
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) July 15, 2021
Work is ongoing to to review frameworks relating to the targeted restriction of service during the time in question. NetBlocks identified a similar pattern of social media restrictions during the San Isidro protests for artistic freedom in Havana in November 2020.
Demonstrations calling for social and political freedoms have widened since last year, with police flooding the streets on Monday as social media restrictions were found to come into effect.
NetBlocks recommends that governments comply with international norms and internet governance frameworks and ensure reliable internet connectivity including at times of political unrest.
Published with thanks to Redes Ayuda, YucaByte, and members of the public for their input during the preparation of this report.
- Faced with rare protests, Cuba curbs social media access, watchdog says * – Reuters
- Facebook and WhatsApp Stop Working in Cuba After Rare Protests – Bloomberg
- Cubans take to streets in rare protests over lack of freedoms and worsening economy * – CNN
- Cuba’s internet cutoff: The go-to tactic for global despots – AP
- Cuba restricting internet in response to protests: monitor – France24 / AFP
- Cuba protests: Arrests after thousands rally against government – BBC
- Cuba protests: latest information – Amnesty International
- U.S. reviewing whether it can help restore internet access in Cuba -Biden – Reuters
- Cuba Is Latest Nation to Restrict Social Media During Protests – VOA
- WhatsApp, Telegram, social media access restricted in Cuba amid anti-govt protests * – International Business Times
- Cuban dissidents report house arrests and social media blackouts since protest – Reuters
- Twitter, WhatsApp users in Cuba report disruptions amid free speech protests – CyberScoop
- Pandemic Crisis Drives Cubans to Rare, Risky Protest – Foreign Policy
- NetBlocks confirma bloqueo de redes sociales en Cuba durante protestas relacionadas al Movimiento San Isidro – CiberCuba
- Confirmado: Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook y YouTube fueron bloqueados el fin de semana en Cuba –
Diario de Cuba
- Confirman bloqueo de redes sociales durante protestas por Movimiento San Isidro – ADN Cuba
Internet performance and service reachability are determined via NetBlocks web probe privacy-preserving analytics. Each measurement consists of latency round trip time, outage type and autonomous system number aggregated in real-time to assess service availability and latency in a given country. Network providers and locations are enumerated as vantage point pairs. The root cause of a service outage may be additionally corroborated by means of traffic analysis and manual testing as detailed in the report.
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