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Kazakhstan: State-ordered blogging

rOOse, a blogger on the YVision.kz blog platform in Kazakhstan, has posted [ru] a letter from the government to the principals of schools and colleges across the country containing recommendations to upload videos to the KazTube.Kz video portal, which was created in February 2009 at the expense of the state budget. In particular, the principals are urged to post videos about “significant events taking place in their institutions on a regular basis.”

akost has associated [ru] this “marketing approach” with the one that had been applied back in the Soviet times, when “people were forced to work on subbotniks (area clean-ups), and nowadays people are forced to upload videos to inferior video portals”. bakha has suggested [ru] that the reason for that is that “the authorities have dumped a lot of money into that project and now they are looking for the ways to justify it by administrative increase of traffic”. At the same time, Kimberly jokingly notes [ru] that “fun” is the most popular tag on KazTube.

Against the background of the notorious amendments on Internet regulation and their adoption by the Parliament, one may readily suppose that such approach can become a regular practice in the near future. Kazakhstan may deliberately hinder the development of web 2.0 with its user generated content and replace it with the “approved by the government content”.

Kuanyshbek Yesekeyev, the head of IT and Communications Agency, who initiated these amendments, is worried [ru]:

“Internet has to be regulated to some extent. If it flows naturally, then there is a possibility that the events similar to those in Moldova (when popular uprising was organized via Internet) will take place in Kazakhstan.”

So far no criticism has taken due effect. Roundtables held by rights advocates, letters addressed by journalists and politicians to the Parliament, and even the strong criticism of the OSCE and other international organizations failed to stop adoption of this online censorship law. OSCE Representative for the Freedom of Media Miklos Haraszti has said that this law would become a step backwards and asked president Nazarbayev to veto it.

Is Kazakhstan going to remain the country with positive contemporary history, which voluntary abandoned nuclear weapons and put forward various integration initiatives, or is it going to spoil its image and give a green light to censorship despite protests of local and international community? The Parliament of Kazakhstan has already passed the amendments and submitted them to the president for signing.

Also posted on neweurasia

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