More than 1,200 people have already signed an online petition urging Alyaksandr Lukashenka to abolish his February edict governing the use of the Internet.
The petition is posted on http://ukaz60.net/, which has been launched to "draw public attention" to Internet problems in Belarus. The creators of the website stress that it is not aimed at promoting any political agenda.
Although the Council of Ministers has recently adopted a number of directives clarifying the edict, the ambiguity of some of its provisions remains its most serious flaw, the petition says, noting that even government experts are unable to answer a number of questions.
Uncertainty over the edict's aftermath may prompt international companies and also businesses without a specific geographical location to start moving their capital to other countries, the petition warns. The edict will make the registration of something as minor as email accounts and subdomains a very laborious and time-consuming task, stripping the Internet of its key advantage of accessibility and convenience, the petition says.
Providers of free hosting services, which employ many people, would be forced out of business, while the availability of services has always been one of the main factors behind the rapid spread of the Internet in Belarus, Russia and all over the world, the petition says.
The edict will ban the use of Wi-Fi hotspots that offer Internet access without a password, the petition says, explaining that "it is impossible to check the passport details of those you do not see." Thus, no one except the hosts would be allowed to use home Wi-Fi networks.
Officially titled "On Measures to Improve the Use of the National Segment of the Internet," the edict takes effect on July 1.