Kazakhstan has obtained access to Facebook's internal content-reporting system after the two sides came to an agreement -- the first of its kind in Central Asia -- that will allow the government to remove content it deems "harmful."
The joint agreement between Kazakhstan and Facebook owner Meta Platforms, announced on November 1, comes after the country threatened to block the social-media giant's millions of local users.
"Facebook has provided Kazakhstan direct and exclusive access to Facebook's 'Content Reporting System' (CRS) which can help the government to report content that may violate Facebook's global content policy and local laws of Kazakhstan," the sides said in a joint statement.
The Kazakh Ministry of Information And Social Development added in the statement that access to the CRS "will make it possible for the ministry to report in a timely manner about the content containing violations of both Facebook's global content policies and the national legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan."
In mid-September, Kazakh lawmakers approved the first reading of a bill that would have obliged Facebook and other foreign-owned social networks to register in Kazakhstan and set up representative offices there, where hundreds of opposition and human rights activists have been prosecuted for their postings on social media, especially when expressing support for the banned Koshe (Street) party and the associated Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) movement.
Critics of the bill have accused the authorities of the country of 19 million of seeking to gain new censorship tools, while the bill's authors say it aims to prevent cyber-bullying and the spread of other dangerous content.
Kazakh officials have said Facebook has at least 3.2 million users in the country, while other platforms owned by Meta Platforms such as Instagram and WhatsApp have even more.
According to the statement, Facebook held a training session for ministry experts and as of November 1, ministry staff had begun working with the system.
The ministry added that the two sides agreed to create mechanisms of "permanent cooperation," including the appointment of a representative from Facebook's regional office to work with the ministry.