A severe attempt to clamp down on Internet freedoms, a new law has outlawed Belorussian citizens from accessing foreign Web sites; violating the law is a misdemeanor, punishable by fines and the closure of businesses.
The law, which goes into effect on Friday, also requires that all businesses in Belarus, a former Soviet Republic, conduct their transactions using the .by Belorussian domain name, therefore making it illegal for firms like Amazon.com or eBay to sell goods to customers in Belarus, the U.S. Library of Congress reported.
The law requires that all companies and individuals who are registered as entrepreneurs in Belarus use only domestic Internet domains for providing online services, conducting sales, or exchanging e-mail messages, the Library of Congress wrote.
It appears that business requests from Belarus cannot be served over the Internet if the service provided is using online services located outside the country. The tax authorities, together with the police and secret police, are authorized to initiate, investigate, and prosecute such violations.
Additionally, the owners of Internet cafes and other such sites are liable for the Internet use of their customers and are at risk of being shut down if they don't report violations, Forbes reported. Furthermore, individual owners of computers are liable if they permit someone else to borrow their computer, and that person accesses an illegal Web site.
The law also calls for the establishment of a list of banned Web sites, including pornographic sites, but also sites that contain information of an extremist nature.