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Uzbekistan Restricts Access To Several Social Media Sites


Internet users in Uzbekistan have reported disruptions to Twitter, TikTok, VKontakte, and other social networks. (file photo)

Uzbekistan’s communications regulator has restricted access to several social media websites for violating personal data laws.

O'zkomnazorat announced the restrictions on July 2 without mentioning which social media sites fall under the order.

However, Internet users in Central Asia’s most populous country reported disruptions to Twitter, TikTok, VKontakte, and Skype. In particular, the restrictions reportedly involve throttling, or reduced speed when using the networks.

O'zkomnazorat said social media websites had violated a new personal data law in effect since April which requires Internet companies to store the personal data of Uzbek users on servers in the country.

Use of the social networks will be "limited in accordance with the established procedure until the identified deficiencies are eliminated," the regulator said.

In recent weeks, O'zkomnazorat has issued warnings to Twitter, Russia’s VKontakte, Twitter, Tencent’s We Chat, TikTok owner ByteDance, and Microsoft’s Skype over violations of the personal data law.

The latest restrictions on information in Uzbekistan come as the authoritarian state prepares for a presidential election in October, with President Shavkat Mirziyoev almost certain to win another term.

Ahead of the election, authorities have tightened rules on the Internet and increased pressure on journalists and bloggers.

In March, amendments to communications laws criminalized insulting or defaming the president online and making online calls for "mass disturbances."

Mirziyoev has positioned himself as a reformer since taking office following the death of his authoritarian predecessor, Islam Karimov, in 2016, releasing political prisoners and opening his country to its neighbors and the outside world.

Human rights groups say the reforms have not gone far enough.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Russian and Uzbek services
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