Many countries and organizations, both international and regional, have cited the fight against disinformation and cyberwarfare as a key element of the work of any State. All governments are involved as all countries are affected, without exception.
The United Nations resolution on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security, approved by the General Assembly on 31 December 2020, outlines States’ right and duty to combat the dissemination of false news.
Resolution 75/240 reaffirms “ the right and duty of States to combat, within their constitutional prerogatives, the dissemination of false or distorted news, which can be interpreted as interference in the internal affairs of other States or as being harmful to the promotion of peace, cooperation and friendly relations among States and nations”. It also confirms that “State sovereignty and international norms and principles that flow from sovereignty apply to State conduct of information and communications technology-related activities and to their jurisdiction over information and communications technology infrastructure within their territory”.
The European Union’s fight against disinformation predates the United Nations approach by five years; it approved an Action Plan against Disinformation in December 2018, which came into force in 2019.
That same year, the budget allocated to tackling disinformation rose from less than 2 million to 5 million euros.
As a result, digital heavyweights are bound by a Code of Practice in the region that, during the European election campaign, forced Google to take action against more than 130,000 accounts, Facebook to deactivate 2.2 billion fake profiles and YouTube to close more than 3 million channels.
Similarly, Spain has a Procedure for Intervention against Disinformation, published in the Official State Gazette in October 2019, which identifies the entities and authorities that comprise this system and sets out the procedure for action on disinformation, including prevention, detection, early warning, analysis, response and evaluation.
France has also introduced legislation to “safeguard democracy from fake news”, which pays special attention to electoral processes. Those who break this law could be fined more than 40,000 euros or even face imprisonment.
There are a number of similar examples in Latin America; for example, Argentina’s Observatory of Disinformation and Symbolic Violence in the Media and Digital Platforms (NODIO).
In a similar vein, Nicaragua’s parliament approved a law on cybercrime in October 2020 to tackle offences such as hacking, identity theft and data espionage, but also aimed at those who spread misinformation.
The island could not remain on the back foot, and updated its legal framework on telecommunications, including strengthening the model of action against cybersecurity incidents, something which is by no means exclusive to the Caribbean island.
Executive Order No. 35 establishes new regulations in this sector, including Resolution No. 105, which for the first time provides legal backing to tackle such incidents and defines offences beyond strictly technical limits.
As such, it creates a working system, enabling entities that specialise in information and communications technology security to fulfil their duties in terms of sharing information on cybersecurity incidents and vulnerabilities.
It sets out duties and rights to protection without differentiating citizens, civil society and State and private institutions.
The regulation defines the different types of cyber incident and events, such as cyberbullying, fake news, mass blocking of social media accounts, pornography, cyberterrorism, cyberwar and social subversion.
In terms of the reach of this regulation, industry managers clarified that the Cuba does not have service contracts with social media platforms due to the United States embargo, which has lasted more than 60 years.
However, the country can register and report violations, many of which breach the rules of these online spaces.
While all countries are looking to defend themselves, the perspective seems to shift when it comes to Cuba, with some deeming Executive Order No. 35 an “attack on human rights” despite the model operating in practically all countries. Its European equivalent, the Action Plan against Disinformation, has been in place since 2018.
Cuba is increasingly promoting Internet access across the island, but it rejects the misuse of the digital world by some to misinform and to incite violence and hatred.
On multiple occasions, Cuban authorities have denounced the United States government for using digital platforms as an instrument to wage an unconventional war against their nation, as confirmed by numerous examples.
They have also warned that information technology monopolies such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have violated their own rules and allowed violent and hate-filled messages against the country on their platforms. In this context, various government institutions have recently been the object of cyberattacks, including the website of the Presidency and media websites Granma and Cubadebate, with attempts made to delete their digital presence. (PL)