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Coding marathon will help Cubans skirt internet restrictions

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
April 8, 2015
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Cuba's government might be loosening its grip on internet access in the country, but non-profit group Roots of Hope isn't waiting around for that trickle of information to turn into a flood. It's holding a Code for Cuba hackathon to develop tools that help residents get things done while dodging online restrictions. The event, which kicks off April 25th at Facebook's headquarters, will give prizes to those with solutions that are not only effective, but deal with a tough Cuban reality where connections are slow, scarce and heavily censored.

This sounds like it may be idealistic, but history suggests that it could produce tangible, practical results. A smaller, inaugural hackathon in Miami led to an email-based marketplace that 40,000 island residents are using every month. It also produced an email search tool and a shareable Raspberry Pi internet access point. This bigger, higher-profile marathon could give Cubans considerably more (and possibly better) ways to see what they've been missing.

[Image credit: AP Photo/Desmond Boylan]

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