Why Are Cubans Losing Access to Instant Messaging?
News from Cuba | Thursday, 11 June 2009
CDA Asks Treasury to Investigate
The Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA) has asked for a U.S. Treasury Department inquiry into actions by Microsoft, and possibly other Instant Messaging (IM) providers, that cut off Cubans and other persons living in countries under U.S. sanctions from access to IM.
The United States has historically stood for broadening access to information, not curtailing it, and so we need to find out whether Microsoft and possibly other providers are cutting off access to IM because they think U.S. sanctions require them to do so, or because the Treasury Department has told them to do so, said Sarah Stephens, executive director of the CDA. Either way, it is a horrible idea and these actions need to be investigated and, if necessary, reversed.
According to published reports, at least one U.S. provider Microsoft and its Windows Live Messenger Service has stopped offering IM to users in Cuba, Syria, Iran, Sudan, and North Korea. Yahoo, Google, and AOL may have taken similar actions.
Microsoft is declining to reveal whether it pulled the plug on IM access in these countries at the behest of the U.S. Treasury Department s Office of Foreign Assets Control or did so voluntarily.
The letter from the Center for Democracy in the Americas to Secretary Geithner calls on Treasury to investigate the actions denying IM to persons in sanctioned countries, to publically release whether it is the companies or Treasury instigating these actions, and to see that these services are restored. The letter was sent to Treasury on Saturday, May 30, 2009 and it was released by the CDA today.
The Center for Democracy in the Americas and its Freedom to Travel to Cuba Campaign works for fundamental change in U.S. policy toward Cuba, starting with repeal of the ban on legal travel by all Americans to Cuba.