New Internet law in Turkmenistan lays grounds for better access, but comes with undue restrictions, Mijatović says


Dunja Mijatović. Photo: OSCE/Curtis Budden

VIENNA, 9 January 2015 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today acknowledged a new law in Turkmenistan that could allow for more Internet access but raised concerns about restrictions in the measure.

“The explicit objective stated in this law, which is to provide unrestricted Internet access to users in Turkmenistan, is commendable,” Mijatović said. “The law will hopefully contribute to increase availability of the Internet in Turkmenistan.”

The new law, “On legal regulation of the Internet development and Internet services in Turkmenistan”, adopted in December 2014, states that access to Internet becomes obligatory for all scholarly, educational and cultural institutions, including schools, museums and archives. It also requires government offices to establish official websites providing basic information about its operations and that they have to respond to online inquiries.

Mijatović warned that the law comes with restrictive regulations, including disproportionate limitations on online content for overly broad defined activities, such as making users liable for truthfulness of all information posted by them or for imprecisely defined propaganda of violence and cruelty.

“These restrictions are vaguely defined they can have a negative effect on free flow of information and free expression on the Internet,» Mijatović said.

The Representative also noted the authorities’ continuing co-operation with her Office offered its support and assistance in improving the legislation.