Tuesday, January 10, 2012

WTF: Belarus bans accessing foreign sites as a criminal offense

If you thought the blocking by Etisalat was bad, wait until you hear this. The Republic of Belarus has made it illegal for any citizen to access any foreign website.

Most suitable picture here would be a map, since no one knows where Belarus is. Except for that one geography nerd.

In a possible attempt to show us how much worse the internet can be compared to Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) , the country has made it illegal to visit or use the services of any website not registered in Belarus itself but abroad – e-mail, buying and selling products, or any other such service. If you are found doing so, it will be counted as a misdemeanor and you will be fined $125 USD. This also applies to every company there.

And there’s no working around this limitation either. If someone else uses your Wi-Fi to do so, you are held liable. Every internet cafe has to make sure they take the right procedures to block all foreign sites and not visit them themselves either, otherwise their business is subject to closure. The Belarusian Embassy in London tells Computer Business Review that the aim here is to protect the rights of Belarusian citizens¦ to improve the quality of internet services and make them cheaper, and to encourage further growth of the national segment of the internet network. Seems legit.

So the next time you check your Facebook, just remember that there’s a poor guy sitting out there in Belarus unable to update his status.

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