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Published: Monday 30 November -0001

imageFrom July people in Belarus will not be allowed to enter Internet cafes without passports or other identification proofs.

The country’s president Alyaksandr Lukashenka passed a decree to that effect in the first week of March. The order, which has been criticized by human rights groups and Western countries, obliges Internet cafe owners to identify those who enter cafes.

The decree also requires all Internet providers in Belarus to store data on the Internet use of individuals for a year and to hand it over to law enforcement agencies on request. Service providers have also been asked to block access to any website within 24 hours of being asked to do so.

Nikolai Proshysenka, a human rights activist in the country, said the decree is more draconian than any Internet regulation in the West. The president’s official website says it is “to protect the rights of Belarusian citizens, society, and the state in the field of information”.

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