The European Union is concerned about Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s Internet use edict, Lutz Guellner, spokesperson for the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, told BelaPAN.
"We have not yet studied it in detail, but we have the impression that this edict may lead to further restrictions on freedom of expression," the spokesperson said. "If this happens, we’ll view this as a step in the wrong direction."
Since the edict comes into force on July 1, 2010, the EU will suggest that the Belarusian government make everything to prevent restrictions on freedom of expression, especially considering that the EU is ready for the development of relations with Belarus, Mr. Guellner said.
When asked whether the edict might affect Belarus’ participation in the EU’s Eastern Partnership program, he said that this would depend on general progress in the country. "Progress is needed in certain areas, but we certainly view the edict in this context," he noted.
Officially titled "On Measures to Improve the Use of the National Segment of the Internet," the edict was issued on February 1.
The edict provides for the possibility of closing access to websites and 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 clients.
The requirement is said to be aimed at increasing "the security of the citizens and the state."