Cuba’s official substitute for the World Wide Web has long been its intranets, a set of highly regulated web portals that provide access to a handful of State-sponsored websites. The intranets make up a “controlled Internet” that consists of national content approved by the government, including the national email system (Nauta), educational content (RedUniv), medical content (Infomed), and other State-approved national intranets. Content on the national intranet network is highly controlled by the government through surveillance software. (See the Nauta page for further details.)
Intranet can be defined as “a computer network with restricted access, as within a company, that uses software and protocols developed for the Internet.” In practice, the intranet looks like the Internet but is not connected to the World Wide Web. In the case of Cuba, the network of intranets has been used as a substitution for the Internet because of political and economic restrictions put in place by the Cuban government and service restrictions enacted by the U.S. in regards to accessing services like Google or Facebook. However, these restrictions have been lifted from the U.S. side, and regulations have since changed from the Cuban government to increase public access to the Internet, which has slowly come to replace the intranet; though many services, such as Skype, are still not permitted or functional in Cuba.


Antiquated as it is, the intranet system does provide useful information curated specifically for Cubans. For example, Infomed has been providing Cuban doctors with an aggregated news source of updated medical information over the last 24 years. Infomed employees update content on the portal, posting relevant news and medical journal articles, with special priority given to content originating in Cuba. However, the government’s robust support for medical information has not yet been reflected in other fields.


Another notable intranet is RedUniv, which is the intranet for higher education in Cuba. Created in 2004, RedUniv connects 21 smaller university intranets that reach 35,000 university offices. RedUniv also includes a Cuban encyclopedia site, similar to Wikipedia, that has a diverse range of pages on topics of interest written from a Cuban perspective. Although most of the pages are user-generated (meaning they are written and contributed to by users of the site), some pages are restricted because of sensitive content that does not align with official government policies and views.
Written by: Gary Verburg, Laura Lehman, and Mariela Machado FantacchiottiEdited by: Emily Sylvia