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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Belarus Made Foreign Sites Illegal

Starting this year it has appeared illegal for Belarus citizens to visit foreign sites. Belarus Internet users found guilty of violating this law risk facing penalties of up to $125.

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According to the new legislation, firms and individuals registered as entrepreneurs have to use only domestic domains in their operations for offering Internet services, carrying out sales, and even exchanging email messages. In other words, business requests from Belarus simply can’t be served over the web if the Internet service provider is using services from outside the country. Meanwhile, the tax authorities, along with the police and secret police, are tasked to initiate, investigate, and prosecute such infringements.

In addition, the new legislation says that the owners and administrators of the Internet caf├ęs and other places providing access to the web might be found guilty of infringing the law. Therefore, the owners can be fined and their businesses might be closed if users of online services provided by these entities appear to visit sites located outside of Belarus and if these cases of violation aren’t properly identified, recorded, and reported to the government. The legislation says that such provision may even apply to ordinary citizens if they let other people to use their home PCs for browsing the web.

Considering the provisions of this new legislation, which was implemented on the 6th of January, the stand of the Belarusian Government regarding the freedom of its people became too clear for everyone – that’s actually a blatant form of filtering and the industry observers from all over the world are at least very curious about its unfolding in the future. It seems that the 21 century is just not here for all of the countries yet.

Meanwhile, the experts reckon that such measures will only cause foreign sites filtering access from the Republic of Belarus. For instance, if someone from Belarus suddenly purchases something from Amazon, which isn’t exactly a Belarusian organization and thus isn’t registered in the country, the transaction automatically becomes illegal. As a result, the Belarusian Attorney General could simply send a note to Amazon notifying it that it’ infringing the national law and might be sued.

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