12 December 2018, Wednesday, 0:30
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Andrei Bastunets: Belarusians Are To Retreat To Runet Because Of Amendments To Law On Mass Media

ANDREI BASTUNETS
PHOTO: BAJ

The new version of the law weakens the protection of the Belarusian information space.

Chairman of the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) Andrei Bastunets has stated that to Charter97.org, commenting on the amendments to the law on the mass media, which was adopted in the first reading by the "house of representatives":

– The amendments were adopted in the first reading despite the opinions expressed by the BAJ, representatives of independent media, and business communities. We have published an analysis of the draft law and a number of key observations on it. Now we hope that our remarks will be taken into account during the second reading.

– In your opinion, what are the consequences of adopting this law?

– Obviously, the main goal of this law is to strengthen the state control over the Internet space of Belarus. Firstly, the amendments might result in self-censorship in Internet resources. Secondly, they increase the direct censorship. Since the law provides for monitoring the Internet publications by the Ministry of Information. And thirdly, a part of the Belarusian users will retreat to Russian Internet resources, which hardly meets the declared goals of the legislation – the "protection" of the information space of Belarus was among them.

Speaking about the identification of commentators on Internet forums, I want to note that so far the forms of identification have not been defined. The representatives of the Ministry of Information were considering the identification of commentators via SMS. In my opinion, because of technical and financial reasons, it makes the life of Internet resources much more difficult, and they, by the way, are responsible for all the content, including for the comments that visitors post.

I want to emphasize that the identification of commentators contradicts a value of the Internet, which is very important in non-democratic countries today – anonymity.