Amendments to Mass Media Law violate human rights, experts say

Already on 1 December come into force amendments to the Law “On mass media”, which require the commentator authentication via SMS. Only one account can be registered with a phone number. In addition to the telephone number, the user must leave their personal data.

“These personal details will need to be stored somewhere, respectively, it is the duty of the owner of an Internet resource. This is an additional cost. Plus, this data will not always correspond to reality. After all, as soon as we entered the phone number, then we have this personal information and can do what we want. And the owner of an Internet resource cannot verify this,” said Alyaksei Kazlyuk from “Human Constanta”.

Still not everything is clear with the registration of users with foreign telephone numbers. There are special online services that provide a service for receiving SMS registration numbers from other countries. In this case, identifying the user is impossible.

“The outflow of people into social networks after December 1 will take place. After all, people want to comment on the news. But if the opportunity is no longer there, they will go somewhere else. Perhaps it will be “Facebook” or the Russian social networks,” said media expert Paulyuk Bykowski.

In addition, all user data should be stored on servers in Belarus. This makes it impossible to use foreign resources for comment moderation.

The following opinion is shared by the experts: currently, the Belarusian authorities can find the person whose network activity is of interest to them even without amendments to the law “On mass media”.

“The right to anonymity is one of the basic rights, because only understanding that the person will not be held responsible can make them speak freely. Especially in countries with problems in the judicial system in general, wjere people are persecuted for expressing their ideas,” said Alyaksei Kazlyuk.

According to experts, an attempt to control the Internet, the so-called “BelTA case” and harassment of journalists of “Belsat” are the links of one chain. And it suggests that an attack on freedom of speech continues.

Zmitser Mitskevich,