Belarusian authorities prepare decree on Internet limitations
Nasha Niva newspaper received a draft decree On measures for revising the use of the national segment of the World Wide Web.
Under this document, control over web-sites in Belarus is to be carried out in accordance with to the procedure prescribed by the Council of Ministers on approval of the special service, the Operational and Analytics Centre of the Presidential Administration (OAC).
Under the draft decree, the OAC is to control the internet providers of the country. ‘Telecommunications operators that have the right to access the international telecommunications networks, and accredited Internet services providers’ are to be approved by the OAC ‘under the agreement with the president of the Republic of Belarus’.
Activities of a provider can be discontinued by a decree of the Council of Ministers. The OAC’s capacities also include ban on access to information that is illegal under the Belarusian law. Registration of domain names .by is to be controlled by the OAC as well.
The same agency is also to handle enforcement of the national legislation by the companies that provide Internet services.
The draft decree also includes a plan of actions for the next year that are to be implemented by the Council of Ministers and the OAC with the aim to revise work of the national segment of the Web. Thus, under this draft document, within three months after the decree publication the Council of Ministers is to ensure regulatory actions for the work of informational resources of the Belarusian segment of the web, and to about owners of informational resources.
Clause 1.5 of the decree causes concern. It reads: ‘Upon the request of a user, providers of Internet services effect services limiting access to information aimed at extremist activities’ and so on.
Within one year after the decree’s coming in force, it is planned to write a draft law on the national segment of the Internet and offer it for consideration of the Belarusian president.
The Operational and Analytical Centre was established in 2008.
Here are some excerpts from the draft document.
1. Registration of resources of the national segment of the World Wide Web is to be carried out in accordance with to the procedure prescribed by the Council of Ministers on approval of the Operational and Analytics Centre under the jurisdiction of the Presidential Administration (OAC).
Information about the registered resources of the national segment of the Web is to be conveyed to the OAC in a procedure and in the amount prescribed by this Centre.
• The national segment of the Word Wide Web means of informational networks, systems, resources, including telecommunications networks and complexes of software and hardware facilities connected to the network limited to the territory and (or) domain area of the Republic of Belarus.
1.2. Operators and other legal entities and private entrepreneurs that provide Internet services (Internet providers) must identify * Internet users** to whom their services are rendered.
Information about identification of Internet users is to be stored by Internet providers for at least one year and to be submitted upon request of the state bodies that carry out investigative activities, prosecution agencies, preliminary investigation agencies, courts;
1.4. When Internet providers, Internet users violate requests of this decree, or other legal acts in the sphere of use of the national segment of the Web, rendering services with the use of this network can be suspended or discontinued in a procedure prescribed by the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus.
Suspension of rendering Internet services is executed after demand of competent government bodies, as well as state agencies that carry out investigative activities, prosecution agencies, preliminary investigation agencies, courts where there are sufficient grounds to believe that continuation of access to these services would contribute to commission of an offence.
2. The Council of Ministers of Belarus:
2.1. Within three months is:
2.1.1. To define:
The sphere of duties of organs of state administration subject to the Government of the Republic of Belarus, in the sphere of the World Wide Web use;
The list of services rendered with the use of the national segment of the Web, and the responsibility of Internet providers for keeping records of them;
The procedure of conveying information necessary for identification of Internet users and services provided to them, to the state agencies that carry out investigative activities, prosecution agencies, preliminary investigation agencies, courts;
The procedure of suspension or termination of rendering services in the national segment of the Web;
2.2. Within six months:
A draft Concept on development of the national segment of the Web is to be created and offered for approval of the President of Belarus;
The procedure of state registration of mass media disseminated by means of Internet, and the procedure of their production is to be determined;
The procedure f Internet users’ identification in places of collective use of the Internet, including Internet-café clients, home networks users is to be defined;
5. Within a year state agencies concerned are to prepare and offer for consideration of the head of state offers for enacting into law administrative, criminal and other responsibility for law violations in the sphere of Internet use.
Will pincers be closed on Internet?
By the way, according to the information Belorusskiy Partizan received from an unnamed source in the presidential administration, the Operative and analytical centre of the presidential administration has been given a task to develop a concept of counteraction to opposition on the web.
Recently experts noted increased activities of the Belarusian special services on the web. ‘Commentators’ at the forums of independent web-sites have become more active. They create a negative representation of the opposition and discredit its activists, question any information criticizing the authorities; web-sites aimed at dissemination of misleading information about the opposition have been created. However, the regime is no longer satisfied with one-time actions. The aim has been set to create a strategy, an all-encompassing plan for struggle on the web. The equipment bought in China several years ago is sure to be used to the full. The pressure on journalists working for independent web-sites can't be excluded.