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Belarus11 June 2008

Ministers urged not to follow Chinese model of online censorship

Reporters Without Borders has written to the Belarusian ministers of information and communication condemning the comments about online regulation that deputy information minister Liliya Ananich made during a round table organised by the magazine Belaruskaya Dumka on 2 June.

Ananich said the information ministry was “unambiguously committed to the legislative regulation of the operation of Internet mass media” and that websites that wanted to “act as mass media” should be registered in accordance with a established procedure “defined either by the Mass Media Law or a regulatory act of the government.” She also referred to the use of Chinese expertise to block access to foreign websites that could have a “bad influence” on the Belarusian Internet.

Addressing information minister Uladzimir Rusakevich, Reporters Without Borders wrote: “Most Belarusian citizens are regular Internet users. We are aware that it is important to regulate website content but we are also convinced that freedom of expression should not suffer as a result. We would therefore be grateful if you would send us the provisional findings of the working group you set up last year to study Internet legislation in various countries in order to identify regulations that could be applied in Belarus.”

Another participant in the 2 June round table, Oleg Proleskovsky, who heads the informational analysis centre at the office of the president, said: “In organisational terms, it is necessary to use so-called content-filtering software. This is software that helps users or local network administrators block access from computers, for which they are responsible, to sites containing information that conflicts with current legislation or public moral standards.”

In its letter to communications and informatisation minister Nikolai Pantelei, Reporters Without Borders asked what software the government planned to use to regulate the Internet in Belarus.

“We would like to know what kinds of websites are targeted by these filtering methods and the precise reasons for using such filtering,” the letter said. “We regard this manifest desire to control content as a threat to online freedom of expression. It is all the more reprehensible that you envisage a partnership with China, the world’s leading online censor.”

Read the letter to information minister Uladzimir Rusakevich

PDF - 77.7 kb
Letter to Uladzimir Rusakevich

Read the letter to communications and informatisation minister Nikolai Pantelei

PDF - 71.5 kb
Letter to Nikolai Pantelei



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