Alyaksandr Lukashenka on February 1 signed a presidential edict, which opposition groups and independent experts feared would tighten the government’s control over the Internet ahead of Belarus’ local elections.
Officially titled "On Measures to Improve the Use of the National Segment of the Internet," the edict comes into force on July 1, 2010.
The Belarusian leader’s press office did not make the text of the document available, offering only a written comment.
The edict will require Internet service providers to identify subscriber devices used by their clients and keep records of them, as well as of services provided to the clients, the press office said.
The requirement is aimed at increasing "the security of the citizens and the state." The edict will introduce "a mechanism of limiting access to information at the request of an Internet service user."
"At the request of an Internet service user, the provider will have to limit access for the subscriber device to information that is aimed at distributing pornographic material, propagating violence, cruelty and other acts prohibited by laws," the press office said.
The document will also establish "a set of requirements designed to make information about governmental agencies and other state organizations easier to access," the press office said.
The edict will require governmental agencies and companies controlled by the government to run extensive information about them on their web sites and update it regularly.
The document is also aimed at combating copyright infringement, reading that copyrighted material must be distributed over the Internet in accordance with copyright regulations upon approval of the copyright holder.
When using information of another web site, an electronic media company will be required to run the hyperlink, the edict says.
Companies that sell goods and services via the Internet will have to engage in the activity only with the help of "Belarusian-based information networks, systems and resources of the national segment of the Internet."
The edict will introduce a registration requirement for the segment’s information networks, systems and resources, the press office said.