14 June 2024, Friday, 15:49
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Reporters Without Borders: Internet censorship in Belarus is intolerable

Reporters Without Borders: Internet censorship in Belarus is intolerable

In case Internet censorship imposed in Belarus, the country would be added to the list of countries such as North Korea, China and Iran.

The international human rights organisation “Reporters Without Borders” have made a statement of protest expressing their concern over the plans of the Belarusian government to tighten control over Internet. The matter concerns the decree “On Measures for Revising Use of the National Segment of the World Wide Web” which appeared in the press on December 14, 2009. The organisation attracts attention to the fact that the freedom of speech in Belarus is considerably limited even without that.

“We must emphasize our concern about this bill, which threatens online free speech and everyone’s right to express their views anonymously without fear of government repression,” Reporters Without Borders said. “After placing most of the traditional media under its control, the regime is pursuing an offensive against new media.”

The press freedom organisation added: “The president’s attempts to be reassuring cannot hide the repressive nature of this bill, which is liable to make netizens censor themselves. It should be abandoned so that Belarus is not added to the list of countries such as North Korea, China and Iran that Reporters Without Borders has identified as Enemies of the Internet.”

In its monitoring of online freedom, Reporters Without Borders has until now classified Belarus as a country “under surveillance” because it has only one ISP (Beltelekom), because access to opposition websites is blocked during major political events and because Internet café owners are required under a February 2007 decree to alert the police about customers who visit “sensitive” sites and keep a record of all the sites visited during the previous 12 months on each computer and make it available to the police if requested.

Journalists writing for the Charter 97 opposition news website (charter97.org) received threats last July after the site posted an article about a racism case.

We remind that on December 14 mass media received a draft decree “On Measures for Revising Use of the National Segment of the World Wide Web”. The decree considerably increases the control of the authorities over Internet users and imposes a number of new conditions of using Internet in Belarus.

The scandalous document mentions blocking websites by the decision of state organs, identification of web users, responsibility for dissemination of information on the web, and state registration of online media.

According to the first version of the decree, hosting of Belarusian websites is obligatory transferred to Belarus, and in order to access internet even in dial-up mode, Belarusians would have to show passport to the provider first.

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