Bipartisan legislation introduced on Tuesday by Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) would provide opportunities to U.S. telecommunications and Internet firms to offer service in Cuba and build a 21st century digital infrastructure.
According to a Senate press release, the Cuba Digital and Telecommunications Advancement Act (Cuba DATA Act) seeks to “codify the Obama Administration's policy of utilizing Internet and telecommunications technology to engage with Cubans” and “encourage financing and market reform by repealing outdated policies that prevent American businesses from investing in Cuba.” In addition to permitting U.S. telcos to offer service in Cuba and export consumer devices to that country, the Cuba DATA Act would also provide “the certainty that businesses and investors require . . . by removing barriers for U.S. and international businesses looking to invest in Cuba.” The bill would also empower international groups to work within Cuba “by repealing outdated provisions that prevent multilateral organizations from investing in the country.”
Emphasizing that “Americans are eager to do business with Cubans . . . but Cuba lacks the 21st century technology needed for companies operating in a global economy,” Udall remarked that, “as we work to open up relations with Cuba, ensuring Cuba can access the Internet and cellular technology is the first step toward lasting change.” As Flake agreed that the bill “paves the way for the Cuban people to have more freedom,” Durbin stressed that “normalizing relations with Cuba is more than just good business—it will open this country just 90 miles off our coast to new ideas, new values and improved human rights.” Describing Cuba as “one of the least wired countries in the western hemisphere,” Enzi predicted that passage of the Cuba DATA Act “will provide the opportunity and assurances needed to help cultivate telecommunications services that will deliver new perspectives and information to a people who have been severely limited.”