Internet freedom in Belarus. Digest of e-Lawtrend publications, November 2013 — June 2014

In this issue

New restrictions of access to information

On 21 March 2014 Order of the Operations and Analysis Centre of the President of the Republic of Belarus (OAC) No. 10 dd. 31 January 2014 was published and came into force. According to the order, cultural and educational organizations shall be prohibited access to the websites of the limited-access list.

 Access to information and personal data protection in the amended Information, Informatization, and Information Protection Law

On 11 April 2014 the amended Information, Informatization, and Information Protection Law comes into force. Despite some positive changes, the major problem of combining the issues of access to information and personal data protection along with other aspects of regulating information relations in a single law persists.

Cybecrime control

Penalty of crimes against information security was originally institutionalised in the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus in 1999. IT development has resulted in alteration of the old crimes and emergence of absolutely new forms of crimes related to the use of computer information and different computer systems. The official statistics testify to the growth in the number of crimes discovered in this sphere. For instance, while 2,040 high-tech crimes had been uncovered in 2012, 2,558 were in 2013.

Amended Telecommunications Law abolishes Beltelecom’s monopoly?

 Law of the Republic of Belarus No. 172-Z dd. 1 July 2014 has significantly amended the Telecommunications (No. 45-Z dd. 19 July 2005). The amendments clarify the existing concepts and define new concepts in the telecommunications field, detail the competences of the governmental agencies in the area as well as step up the level of the subscribers’ personal data protection. The major provisions of the Law will come into force in six months upon publication – as of 9 January 2015.

“Hate speech” in Belarusian online media

 In June the results of a statement monitoring were published concerning statements which “propagate, provoke or justify racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or other forms of aggression including aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism, discrimination and animosity towards minorities and migrant”. The new initiative is being implemented by Journalists for Tolerance group within the campaign aimed at increasing social responsibility of the Belarusian journalists. Journalists for Tolerance had analysed the contents of the publications of 35 media outlets, including online news outlets,,, It’s worth noting that all the “traditional” news outlets included in the monitoring list have online versions.

Is patient confidentiality guaranteed to the citizens of Belarus?

 Lack of information concerning the measures taken in connection to the photos of the surgeries done on the patients of a Minsk medical institution published on social networks makes one refrain from the affirmative answer to the question. According to Alexei Kazliuk, a lawyer, a Legal Transformation Centre (Lawtrend) expert, this case questions the entire patient-confidentiality system, including photos, videos, outpatients’ records, patients’ databases, and other patient information. The personnel of healthcare institutions should be trained to handle information as well as strict rules of data use should be put in place.

 Lawtrend’s activities

Seminar Freedom and Security Online, presentation of the research Governmental Agencies of the Republic of Belarus: 15 Years Online,  round table Official Websites of Governmental Agencies of the Republic of Belarus: Discussion of Perspectives, public lecture of the ICANN Vice President, participation in international and national conferences.

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