Belarus Is Now Home to the Internet's Most Insane Law

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Belarus: small. Proud. Kvass-drinking. A long history of dubious human rights and piddling dictatorship. And now, bound to a law that makes it illegal to browse foreign websites. Поздравляю!

According to the Library of Congress, the new law, which makes SOPA look like a lollipop handout, might make hitting Facebook a little tricky outside of home. Essentially, any "company" or "entrepreneur"—left to be defined broadly—has to use Belarusian internets:

The Law requires that all companies and individuals who are registered as entrepreneurs in Belarus use only domestic Internet domains for providing online services, conducting sales, or exchanging email messages. It appears that business requests from Belarus cannot be served over the Internet if the service provider is using online services located outside of the country. The tax authorities, together with the police and secret police, are authorized to initiate, investigate, and prosecute such violations.

Additionally, the Law states that the owners and administrators of Internet cafés or other places that offer access to the Internet might be found guilty of violating this Law and fined and their businesses might be closed if users of Internet services provided by these places are found visiting websites located outside of Belarus and if such behavior of the clients was not properly identified, recorded, and reported to the authorities. The Law states that this provision may apply to private individuals if they allow other persons to use their home computers for browsing the Internet.


So, that's pretty horribly draconian! Don't look at websites outside of Belarus if you're a company, but hey, if you're just hanging out at your house we might also send the secret police after you. Luckily, there are tons of great Belarusian websites to check out, right? Right? Like this site dedicated to the history of tractors and cars in Belarus, that doesn't work anymore. Or Gizmodo Belarus. Or, uh. [LoC via Slashdot]