President signs New Media Law

    The head of state, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has signed amendments to national legislation on information-communication networks for the improvement of the state regulation of the distribution of information through information-communication networks, Kazakhstan Today reports citing a presidential press release as stating.
    On June 24, at a plenary session, the Majilis of Kazakhstan agreed with the amendments introduced by the Senate to the amendments to national laws on communications networks, which was then sent to the president.
    The law defines all Internet resources, including: web sites, chats, blogs, online stores, electronic libraries as forms of media, and places them under the same criminal, civil and administrative responsibility as traditional media.
    Foreign Internet resources, since the time the law comes into force, will be blocked, if their content contradict Kazakhstan’s legislation.
    It was originally proposed to introduce a rule giving the right for a pre-trial suspension of specific media to the General Prosecutor. However, this rule was rejected during the parliament’s consideration of the document.
    The Journalism Society of Kazakhstan has responded negatively to the amendments. During the discussion by parliament, Kazakhstani Internet users refused to use national Internet sites fr om 15:00 to 16:00 hours, Astana time, “to protest against the bill…”.
    For its part, the Adil Soz International Fund for the Protection of Freedom of Speech has recommended to completely annul and redraft the law.
    “To date, the practice of other states, such as the comprehensive legal regulation of both internal and external online resources, as requested by the developers of this bill, has not met with success. Real control is exercised only in totalitarian and authoritarian countries such as China or Saudi Arabia, which largely restrict their citizens Internet access. It seems that for a democratic state that guarantees its citizens the right to freely receive and impart information by any means not prohibited by law, as declared in the constitution of Kazakhstan, this is not the way,” the fund stated.
    Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Agency for Information and Communications Kuanyshbek Yesekeev has said the new legislation is consistent with “a liberal regulation of Internet resources”.
    The Internet should be subject to regulation, if it is allowed to drift, then we will repeat the historical experience of Moldavia, wh ere through the Internet, people walked on the streets to strike; and all the events of May were made possible through the Internet -- so this legislation (was designed) to avoid such riots,” Yesekeev said, while introducing the amendments to the MPs, IA Novosti-Kazakhstan reports.