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Kazakhstan wants to restrict the use of foreign social media, Telecom News, ET Telecom

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NUR-SULTAN: The Kazakh parliament passed a law on Wednesday obliging owners of foreign social media and messaging apps to set up offices in the country or to be blocked as part of a campaign against cyberbullying.

The bill, passed on first reading in the House of Commons, focuses on protecting children’s rights, but includes provisions on social media and messaging software, which some critics see as a tool for censoring online comments.

Once the bill has been approved by the Senate and the President, owners of such apps will have to register with authorities and open offices in the Central Asian nation.

The local offices must be run by Kazakh nationals who are personally responsible for removing illegal content – such as posts viewed as cyberbullying – within 24 hours of being notified, the draft said.

In July, the nation of 19 million people temporarily blocked access to the Microsoft subsidiary LinkedIn’s website for allegedly online casino advertising and fake accounts. It complained at the time that LinkedIn was ignoring its requests to clean up its content.

However, critics say the law could instead be used to remove content that was inconvenient for the rulers of major oil exporter Kazakhstan, which was once part of the Soviet Union.

“Which children should these rules protect? Maybe only those of MPs and officials – from investigations by journalists and bloggers,” wrote Adil Jalilov, head of the Kazakh journalism center MediaNet, on Facebook.

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