The government of the Republic of Belarus is poised to introduce a new law that will bar its citizens and residents living there from accessing foreign websites. Unconfirmed reports via PCWorld (citing the Law Library of Congress’ online publication, the Global Legal Mirror), say the new law will go into effect tomorrow (6 January), at which point it will be a crime to visit sites located outside Belarus. Anyone found guilty of breaching the order will reportedly be subject to a fine equivalent to USD125. Initiated via a presidential decree in February 2010, the law compels individuals registered as a business entrepreneur and companies in Belarus to use only national domains for online services, the Global Legal Mirror adds. Further, it is understood that an online business in Belarus will not be allowed if any party involved is using services situated outside the country.
The clampdown on internet access is even more stringent, however, with Reporters Without Borders (RSF) commenting that Belarusian internet service providers (ISPs) will be required to first register with the Ministry of Communications and Information (MoCI) and provide the government with details about its networks, systems and resources, and divulge information on any and all devices connecting to it. Moreover, internet cafe owners could face sanctions if they fail to report anyone accessing a foreign site at one of their facilities, it claims.