Cuban authorities disrupt internet access to crack down on protesters

A guy with a mask of Guy Fawkes painted with the Cuban flag colour during a protest
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Cuba reported a series of internet disruptions in the early hours of July 15 amid a wave of anti-government protests. 

Demonstrations started around midnight in the town of Los Palacios, Pinar Del Río, then spreading to other locations including the capital Havana. NetBlocks and other internet watchdogs reported internet outages to begin around 1am local time, confirming a complete loss of communication of about 45 minutes.

Cubans seem now to be using VPN services to grant access to social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube, whose connection appears to still be limited.  

Internet shutdowns and throttling are now a popular weapon into the hands of governments looking to silence dissidents. These ever-growing incidents have already cost the global economy $10 billion dollar this year. And, while using a security software like the best VPN services can help mitigate the impacts, these disruptions hugely affect the life of citizens and their fundamental rights.   

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What's happening in Cuba?

Exactly one year after the massive 11-J rallies - for which almost 1,000 people are now detained and face decades of prison for attending the events - Cubans took to the street again last night to speak out against months of shortages affecting the island.

Cuba is experiencing the worst economic crisis in decades. The lack of food, medicine, fuel and electricity are pushing citizens to flee the country in search of a better life. 

After Nicaragua lifted its visa requirements last November, over 80,000 Cubans have already taken the journey to reach the US border with Mexico. Many others, among which are activists, artists and independent journalists, have chosen exile to escape the government's repression. 

Whether last night's wave of protests will reach the scale of the events of July last year is yet to be seen. What seems clear, though, is that if that's the case, people in Cuba are likely to suffer more internet disruptions over the following days. 

Chiara Castro
Staff Writer

Chiara is a multimedia journalist committed to covering stories to help promote the rights and denounce the abuses of the digital side of life—wherever cybersecurity, markets and politics tangle up. She mainly writes news, interviews and analysis on data privacy, online censorship, digital rights, cybercrime, and security software, with a special focus on VPNs, for TechRadar Pro, TechRadar and Tom’s Guide. Got a story, tip-off or something tech-interesting to say? Reach out to chiara.castro@futurenet.com