DUSHANBE (TCA) — Tajikistan President Emomali Rakhmon has signed the government’s resolution according to which all Internet and cellular communication in the country must be provided through a single switching center of national telecom operator Tajiktelecom, Tajik media reported.
The move gives the government full control of all international telephone and Internet traffic in Tajikistan.
The resolution must be implemented during 2016. It is compulsory for all companies providing Internet and mobile communication in Tajikistan.
Such practice has long been used in neighboring Uzbekistan, where all Internet traffic goes through the servers of national company Uztelecom. This gives Uzbek authorities the possibility to ban opposition and undesirable web resources without court decision by blocking the access to such websites for customers of all Internet providers in the country at once, the Fergana information agency reported.
In November 2015, the parliament of Tajikistan passed amendments to the Law on Combating Terrorism that legalized blocking the Internet and cellular telephone communication without a court decision during “counterterrorism operations” in the country.
Access to a number of social-networking and other websites — including Facebook, Twitter, RFE/RL’s Tajik- and Russian-language websites and other news portals — has been disrupted several times in recent years in Tajikistan, RFE/RL’s Tajik Service reported.
Restricted access to the Internet resources was reported on days when opposition groups planned rallies or when security forces were involved in operations against alleged terrorists.
U.S. and EU officials have raised concerns both over overall blockage of the Internet and over blockage of access to individual sites.
Tajik officials have always said Internet disruptions were caused by technical problems.