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Belarus limits use of 'foreign' websites, while Kuala Lumpur mandates WiFi in eateries

Darren Murph
January 2, 2012
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Talk about polar opposites. In an update posted to the Library of Congress, we're told that the Republic of Belarus will begin fining citizens that host domestic sites on "foreign" domains. Crazy? Definitely, but no less true. Starting later this week, any Belarusian not registered as an entrepreneur may use "only domestic internet domains for providing online services, conducting sales, or exchanging email messages." According to the interpretation, it "appears that business requests from Belarus cannot be served over the internet if the service provider is using online services located outside of the country," and police (as well as the secret police) are authorized to "initiate, investigate, and prosecute such violations." Wilder still, owners of internet cafes could have their entire business shut down if users are found to be accessing external sites on those networks, and for those curious, the law "may" extend to browsing within one's private home.

In a land a bit closer to the equator, it seems as if officials have their heads in a far more sensible place. Kuala Lumpur -- already home to one of the world's most lust-worthy airports and some of the most accessible / affordable mobile data plans -- will soon mandate that all new restaurants provide WiFi to their customers. And by "WiFi," we mean "access to the entire internet." According to the New Strait Times, the rule will be enforced as early as April, applying to eatery owners operating on premises larger than 120 square meters. We're told that existing owners will be forced to comply when renewing their license, and while the waves won't have to be given away for free, they'll be encouraged to charge no more than a "reasonable fee." Furthermore, the government is considering dipping into its own pockets in order to extend gratis WiFi to public facilities in the city, likely as a follow-up plan to the expiring WirelessKL contract. As if going to wander through Batu Caves and the colorful streets shown above weren't enough reason to visit Malaysia...



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