Die Expertennotizen von IP|Notiz sollen ein Forum für Experten im so genannten „Grünen Bereich” und daran angeschlossenen Rechtsgebieten bilden. Unser Ziel ist es, damit den öffentlichen Austausch in unserem Rechtsgebiet auch im Internet zu fördern. Die mit einer Veröffentlichung im Internet einhergehende Transparenz des wissenschaftlichen Diskurses für die Öffentlichkeit ist uns dabei ein wichtiges Anliegen.
During the last few days a new Belarusian Internet regulation has come into the center of attention of various online media resources. It seems that the rules of the recently enacted President Edict N 60 have been interpreted in a wrong way and caused serious confusion in the worldwide media. The sensation from Belarus named as “Belarus Bans Browsing of All Foreign Websites” is being widely discussed and has been republished by various online media resources (La Stampa, ZDnet, TorrentFreak, The Next Web etc.). The initial source of incorrect assumptions surprisingly seems to be the US Library of Congress, which published the article referring to Belarusian “yellow pages” Interfax news agency.
The occurred confusion can be explained by the lack of objective and qualified information on Belarusian Internet regulation on the one hand and the ambiguity of the provisions of law regulating to the Internet on the other hand. In this article I will provide a short overview of the effective Internet regulation in the Republic of Belarus.
It is important to understand that the Presidential Edict N 60 on Measures to Improve the Use of the National Segment of the Internet Network (hereinafter mentioned as the Edict) has fully entered into force on 1 July, 2010, and its provisions are in force for already 1.5 years. Since entering into force, the Edict, being supported by subordinate legislation, has not brought about any radical changes to the Belarusian online market or heavy limitations of human rights and freedoms. Neither visiting foreign websites is considered a violation of the law nor has any foreign website been blocked since both these measures are not prescribed by the Edict.
The enforcement of sanctions for violation of provisions of the Edict has become the subject of hot discussions these days (I have analysed this on my blog before) . The Law Amending the Administrative Offences Code (hereinafter mentioned as the Law) enters into force on 6 January, 2012, enacting the sanctions for violation of the provisions of the Edict in form of a fine (approx EUR 32 to EUR 96) as the only possible legal sanctions applicable for violation of rules prescribed by the Edict. Any kind of other sanctions in the form of limitation of access to websites or other measures are prescribed neither by the Edict nor by the Law.
Online Business Regulation
The Edict in fact contains certain limitations of the operation of websites in Belarus – however, they are not as harsh as recently discussed in the media.
First of all it should be mentioned that there are no legal obstacles for any Belarusian resident to operate a website under international top-level domains (.com, .net, etc.) or national domain names of other states (.ru, .ch, it. etc.), furthermore, non-residents are free to operate the website registered in the national domain zone “.by”.
The main reason for confusion is Clause 2 of the Edict, obliging websites to host its content on servers in Belarus, as the wording of the Clause 2 is very ambiguous:
“Activity on selling goods, performing works or rendering services on the territory of the Republic of Belarus with use of information networks, systems and resources connected to Internet shall be conducted by legal entities, their branches and representative offices, established in accordance with the legislation of the Republic of Belarus, located in the Republic of Belarus … with use of information networks, systems and resources located (hosted) in the Republic of Belarus and duly registered”.
In other words it enacts the requirement for legal entities and entrepreneurs to host websites, such as sale of goods, rendering of services, performing works, within the territory of the Republic of Belarus. (mehr …)