Uzbek authorities have restricted access to most social media and instant messaging platforms for violating the Central Asian country’s personal data legislation, a move felt almost immediately by users.
However, presidential spokesman Sherzod Asadov told local media on November 3 that access to all the sites would be restored soon and that the head of Uzbekistan’s communications regulator, O'zkomnazorat, Golibsher Ziyaev, had been dismissed for acting wrongly without any authorization.
Earlier in the day, O'zkomnazorat added seven social networks -- Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Moi Mir, Odnoklassniki, Telegram, and YouTube -- to its “register of violators” of a law in effect since April that 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,” it said in a short statement.
Internet users in Central Asia’s most populous country reported disruptions to the targeted websites as of November 3, including throttling or reduced speed when using the networks.
The move comes four months after Twitter, TikTok, VKontakte, Skype, and WeChat were put on the list.
WhatsApp services were said to be functioning normally.
The latest restrictions on information in Uzbekistan come after President Shavkat Mirziyoev won another term in an election last month.
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 outside world.
Human rights groups say the reforms have not gone far enough.