Lukashenko imposes new web controls

Evgeniya Chaykovskaya

Internet users in Belarus face a clampdown after the country's president, Alexander Lukashenko, on Monday ordered everyone logging on to register with the government on grounds of national security.

The country's opposition has decried the move, which comes into effect on July 1, as a further restriction on freedom of speech ahead of a presidential election early next year.

The decree states that all Internet providers in Belarus have to keep records on all computers and communication devices used to access the Internet. It also gives providers the right to limit access to pornographic, violent and cruel materials, and other actions prohibited by law.

The measure also deals with protecting consumer interests, requiring that Belarusian state organizations have to provide more information about their activities on their web sites, make content available for free and update their web sites regularly.

It's the first time that such information on government organizations was made readily accessible to the public, Lukashenko's press office said.

The decree requires copyright to be respected for photographs, music and videos, and even stipulates that information that previously appeared in the media has to be hyperlinked to the original source.

There are thought to be more than 3 million Internet users in Belarus, of whom more than half have broadband access, according to


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