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Facebook Denies Kazakh Claim Of Exclusive Access To Content Reporting System

Updated

Kazakh Minister of Information and Social Development Aida Balaeva claimed the "joint statement" was coordinated with Meta's office in Hong Kong.

Facebook owner Meta Platforms has denied a claim by Kazakhstan that it had been granted exclusive access to the social-media giant's content reporting system.

The Kazakh government released on November 1 what it called a "joint statement" with Facebook that said an exclusive agreement was reached on access to the data that would "help the government to report content that may violate Facebook's global content policy and local laws of Kazakhstan."

The government said the agreement, which would be the first of its kind in Central Asia, would allow authorities to more easily remove content it deems illegal and "harmful."

But Meta spokesman Ben McConaghy said on November 2 that Facebook had dedicated online channels for governments to report content that they believe violates local law.

"We follow a consistent global process to assess individual requests -- independent from any government -- in line with Facebook's policies, local laws, and international human rights standards. This process is the same in Kazakhstan as it is for other countries around the world," McConaghy said in a statement.

"The government released their own statement, independent from Facebook," he added.

After Meta's denial, Kazakh Minister of Information and Social Development Aida Balaeva said the original statement had been coordinated with Meta's regional Asia office.

"The Ministry of Information and Social Development held talks with Meta's office in Hong Kong that covers China, Mongolia, and Central Asia. The text of the joint statement issued on November 1 and its publication in media were fully agreed on by the leadership of the aforementioned office," Balaeva wrote on Facebook.

Balaeva did not comment on McConaghy's statement.

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 in the Central Asian state, 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 its associate, the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) movement.

Critics of the bill have accused the authorities of the autocratic nation 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 users.

With reporting by Reuters
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