Belarus Attempting to Bar Use of Foreign Websites

Ryan Whitwam

Belarus is a small Eastern-European country that borders Russia. This former Soviet Bloc state is known for its breathtaking architecture, turbulent politics, and now for its effort to outlaw most of the Internet. A new law set to go into effect on January 6th would make it illegal for citizens and residents of Belarus to access domains or services based outside the nation.

Connecting to a site with the intention of using foreign services, conducing business, or even sending email will be illegal. The offence will be a misdemeanor, but with a $125 fine per infraction, most businesses will have to comply. Many also fear that businesses with foreign domains will have to give them up. The law is aimed at entrepreneurs, but its vague language could result in a multitude of problems for the average person as well. For example, could clicking ads from a foreign company be illegal under the law?

The law further authorizes the government to set up a blacklist of sites that will not be accessible in the country. This part of the regulation is vague, referring only to “extremist” content. The Library of Congress has come out strongly against the law, saying it could present legal headaches for many websites around the world.

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