Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

New Belarusian Regulation Requires Posters To Identify Themselves

Via Bloomberg News: a new Belarusian regulation now requires people to verify their identities before they can post comments on Internet sites. The rule takes effect December 1, 2018. More here.

The country has a history of censorship regarding the Internet. Here's a 2017 assessment of Internet freedom in Belarus from Freedom House. The report reads in part:

The government temporarily blocked some independent digital media outlets during politically sensitive times within the coverage period, including in the lead-up to the September 2016 parliamentary elections and around the antigovernment protests of spring 2017. In an apparent attempt to prevent users from bypassing government censorship, the authorities introduced a new law blocking anonymizing service Tor.

 

 

 

Techdirt had this assessment from 2012 regarding reports that the country's government was limiting or prohibiting Internet access after it adopted a new statute regulating activities through the Internet.
So while it is by no means true that Belarus has made accessing all sites outside the country illegal, it has certainly made it risky, if not impossible, to buy stuff on external sites. Worse, it confirms that Internet users must be spied upon, and "forbidden" sites must be blocked; taken together, these new measures allow the government of Belarus to exert extremely tight control over Internet users in the country. Moreover, with these systems in place, severing Belarus from the Internet for real would be relatively easy, if its government decided to take that extreme step.
Here's additional commentary from EDRi in 2010, noting that new regulations requiring website registration and data collection of some users went into effect that year.

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/media_law_prof_blog/2018/11/via-bloomberg-news-a-new-belarusian-regulation-now-requires-people-to-verify-their-identities-before-they-can-post-comments.html

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