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Kazakh Bill Hands Officials Blunt Tool To Block Websites

The Movement For Free Internet in Kazakhstan protested by sending a chained-up keyboard to the speaker of parliament.
ASTANA -- The lower house of the Kazakh parliament has approved a controversial bill that defines the Internet as "mass media" and thus gives officials more authority to crack down on websites and other content providers, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported.

The move threatens to further narrow Kazakhs' already limited access to nonstate sources of news and information.

The draft law permits Kazakhstan's prosecutor-general to block information on the Internet if it is deemed to be in violation of any Kazakh laws.

Activists from the Movement For Free Internet have protested the bill's passage by sending a computer keyboard bound in chains to parliament speaker Oral Mukhamedzhanov.

Tamara Kaleeva, the president of the Almaty-based nongovernmental group Adil Soz (The Just Word), says that if the law is approved by the Senate and signed by President Nursultan Nazarbaev, officials will essentially have a free hand to filter online information on both Kazakh- and foreign-based websites.