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Internet censorship

February 2, 2010

Belarusian authorities have ordered all Internet use to be monitored from July 1. The move has been criticized by the opposition as a further curbing of freedom of speech and information under the authoritarian regime.

Alexander Lukashenko
Critics warn the move puts Belarus on a level with China and North KoreaImage: AP

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has signed an order to further monitor Internet use in the country dubbed by critics as Europe's last dictatorship.

"To ensure the security of the state and it's citizens, from July 1, 2010 Internet service providers will be required to identify devices used to connect to the Internet and keep information on those devices and the services provided," the new decree reads.

Under the decree personal data and profiles of Internet users will be collected and service providers can be asked to block access to any website within 24 hours.

The country's authoritarian regime has justified its decision by quoting a need to "fight against everything illegal and to improve the security of the this country and its citizens."

The country's opposition has denounced the move as yet another attack on the freedom of speech and information designed to shut them out from any media access ahead of next year's election.

'An enemy of the internet'

The move further tightens the government's grip on communications in the country. In January, Lukashenko authorized an analysis center to define what information could be made available on the Internet and to monitor traffic.

Reporters Without Borders has strongly criticized the analysis center, saying the move would make the country "fall to the level of North Korea and China … as an enemy of the Internet."

The Internet has been a key source of information in Belarus as most independent newspapers, television and radio stations have been closed down during Lukashenko's 15 years in power.

Editor: Rob Turner