International websites banned in Belarus

Residents of Belarus, an eastern European country, are now forbidden from accessing foreign websites. Any citizen who breaks the new law is liable to face a fine of up to US$125.

All entrepreneurs and companies in Belarus will now have to register as part of the compliance for the new law. If the company or private individual offers commercial services, only local email, hosting and payment providers can be used. This vaguely authoritarian decree is excessively harsher than the US’ proposed SOPA law, which aims to clamp down on copyright infringement.

An official document, issued by the US Library of Congress, explains that even internet cafes in Belarus will have to comply, or face a misdemeanour charge:

Additionally, the Law states that the owners and administrators of Internet cafés or other places that offer access to the Internet might be found guilty of violating this Law and fined and their businesses might be closed if users of Internet services provided by these places are found visiting websites located outside of Belarus and if such behaviour of the clients was not properly identified, recorded, and reported to the authorities.

Private citizens also face the brunt of the law:

“The Law states that this provision may apply to private individuals if they allow other persons to use their home computers for browsing the internet.”

The government of Belarus will be in full control of an internet blacklist which will continuously scan and block “pornographic websites and those that contain information of an extremist nature,” as an example.

Worryingly, international websites will now most likely block access to Belarus. In order to avoid legal action from Belarus, sites such as eBay, Apple, Amazon and any other online service will possibly firewall Belarusian users. From 6 January, full control of this small country’s internet will be handed over to its government.



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