Belarus to Implement New Curbs on Internet Use

Posted January 4th, 2012 at 2:30 pm (UTC-5)
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Belarus is set to impose tough new restrictions on Internet use starting on Friday.

A new law that goes into effect January 6 will allow authorities to impose fines on Internet service providers, cybercafes and individual users if Internet surfers visit foreign websites or conduct online business with clients outside Belarus.

Fines up to about $100 could also be levied on users who visit other sites deemed illegal, such as dissident news or pornography.

Under the new regulations, cybercafes are required to monitor their customers' Internet use and record and store personal information about those users and the sites they visit.

And individuals who let others use their computers can be fined if the users visit foreign or banned sites.

The United States and the European Union have placed sanctions and travel bans on Belarus for keeping a tight rein on the personal freedoms of its citizens.

At a roundtable discussion on Belarus in December, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Belarus, led by strongman Alexander Lukashenko, must take concrete steps to improve human rights and conditions for democracy if it wants relations with the U.S. to improve.