Belarus tightens internet controls

16 02 2007

From

February 15, 2007

Belarussian authorities have imposed tougher restrictions on internet use, obliging owners of internet cafes and computer clubs to keep logs of websites accessed by customers and report them to security services.

The country’s government said that the measures were needed to counter crimes committed online, but critics said authorities were imposing further limitations on freedom of speech in this tightly controlled ex-Soviet republic.

Under the new government order, cybercafes and computer clubs will have to block access to games and websites containing scenes considered pornographic or violent.

Users will also be banned from disseminating what a cabinet statement on the restrictions referred to as forbidden information. Criticising President Alexander Lukashenko is a criminal offence in Belarus.

Internet use is already subject to restrictions: Belarussians must present identification documents to use internet cafes, and web access for offices and private users is controlled by a state monopoly. From Times Online

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