Posted at 04:05 PM ET, 01/03/2012

Belarus has outlawed browsing foreign Web sites

Belarus has outlawed browsing foreign Web sites, making visiting or using those sites by its citizens a misdemeanor.


Plain clothed Belarusan policemen detain activists of "Revolution Internet" in July. (Andrey Smirnov - AFP/Getty Images)
The U.S. Library of Congress reports that the law will go into effect in the former Soviet republic on Jan. 6. The law also requires that all businesses in Belarus use only domestic Internet domains.

If the law is enforced, it could isolate the country on the Web, as some foreign Web sites might block Belarusan visitors to avoid legal trouble.

Web censorship has been an ongoing problem in , according to a 2006 Reporters Without Borders report on nations, such as Myanmar and China, that censor the Internet.

Under President Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarus government has been criticized for blocking Web sites that encourage political opposition. In 2005, student Pavel Morozov was jailed by the KGB for posting homemade animations critical of the president online, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

Last year, there were some signs that the government was losing control over the Web. At least 1,800 people were arrested over the course of the year for participating in the “Revolution Internet,” a series of protests organized on social media networks in June that called for Lukashenko to step down, German news site Deutsche Welle reported.

At the time, Lukashenko dismissed the Internet as “trash” and said he would “whack” online dissenters, al-Jazeera reported.

However, the new law may not be able to block determined Web users. Forbes blogger Alex Knaff suggests that some Belarusans might learn methods of circumventing the law in the few days before it is implemented.

Watch video of the “Revolution Internet” protests below:

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Tags:  World, Belarus, web censorship

 
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