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Bastunets: State Declaring War Against Internet Will Throw Itself Out Of Modern Civilization

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Bastunets: State Declaring War Against Internet Will Throw Itself Out Of Modern Civilization
ANDREI BASTUNETS
PHOTO: BAJ

Will the authorities manage to take social networks under control and block independent websites?

The new version of the law on the mass media should be closely related to the processes that are taking place in the electronic media and social networks. This opinion was expressed by the Minister of Information Aliaksandr Karliukevich during the "The Editors Club" program of the Belarus-1 TV channel.

The head of the Ministry of Information did not clarify which changes in particular are planned to be made in the legislation.

Another participant in the program, director of the representation of the Interstate TV and Radio Company Mir in Belarus, Vladimir Pertsov, noted that "our country has one of the most liberal legislations, which practically does not regulate the Internet sphere of mass communication."

Is it really so?

— Our legislation applies to the Internet in the same way as to all other spheres," — chairman of the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), lawyer Andrei Bastunets said in a comment for zautra.by.

The head of the Belarusian Association of Journalists recalls that, after certain publications on the Internet, the law enforcement bodies of Belarus opened criminal cases over libel, insults, discrediting, inciting ethnic hatred.

Belarusian media legislation is one of the most stringent in the post-Soviet space, the lawyer points out. At the same time, the expert notes, it is completely given over to the officials.

— It's sad and funny to hear that they are trying to spread media legislation on the Internet and on social networks with links to other countries. These statements show that the development of legislation will go in a repressive direction, — Andrei Bastunets believes.

— The law on the media was last changed in 2014. What do you think the authorities are dissatisfied with now?

— Ideed, the amendments to the Law on Mass Media, adopted in late 2014, came into force in 2015. I believe that officials want to take control over the entire information space. In this case, we are talking about social networks, which are not yet controlled. Although the Criminal Code establishes responsibility for certain statements in both traditional media, and on the Internet, in social networks and even on fences. The Administrative Code also controls the dissemination of information and opinions.

Apparently, such control is not enough for the authorities, and they are trying to strengthen it.

— There are talks about possible blockade of Facebook in Russia. One fool makes many?

— The Russian authorities are trying to get owners of social networks to provide information about their users. I do not rule out that such requirements will be extended to us.

In the degree of rigidity in the regulation of the information space, Belarus is "competing" not only with Russia, but also with Kazakhstan.

The partners in the EAEU are trying to get ahead of each other in this race for securing the government’s monopoly on information.

— Is it possible that Belarus could block internet-media and social networks?

— Theoretically, yes. However, specialists say that internet users will find the way to still browse prohibited websites regardless of the degree of blocking.

Some people will really overcome prohibitions. But the absolute majority of the population will only visit easily accessible sites.

In this case, we will return to the times of the USSR, when a few listened, heard the voices of Western radio stations through the "jamming". But the majority of the population used only accessible state media.

— Do you think that the situation when people didn’t care what newspapers to read and what TV to watch, may repeat?

— Yes, surely. Although I hope that the worst scenarios will not work. The information space now in comparison with the Soviet times is more open.

In addition, the development of IT technologies is a highly profitable business. A state that declares war with the Internet will throw itself out of modern civilization.