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Politics

Big Brother-style internet controls expand in Central Asia

New Kazakh and Kyrgyz laws raise fears for press and personal freedom

Central Asian states, already known for restrictions on online dissent, are clamping down further.

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- The screws are being tightened on internet use in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan as new legislation is introduced that will make it easier for the authorities to police online activity. In a Central Asian region already known for intolerance of online debate, these moves are deepening concerns about free expression.

In Kazakhstan, proposed legislation would force social media companies like Facebook and popular messenger services like WhatsApp and Telegram to open representative offices in the country or face restrictions on their activity. In Kyrgyzstan, a law passed in August requires internet service providers and website owners to identify their users to combat "false information."

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