Monday, August 22, 2011


it is strange how suddenly there are a bunch of stories about how kazakhstan is now blocking certain blogging sites. this shouldn't be news. livejournal has been blocked in kazakhstan since at least 2008. blogger-powered sites (including this one) were blocked in kaz for most of the time in 2010 when i was there (except that in late november, just before kaz hosted the OSCE convention, when i suddenly could access my blog in kaz without resorting to an out-of-country proxy). wordpress was blocked periodically in the beginning of 2010, but then wasn't for most of the rest of the year.

so why are blocked blogs in kazakhstan suddenly generating articles now, when i couldn't find any news stories to explain the block in 2010? the difference is this time the block was ordered in a court ruling.

which i guess could be seen as a form of progress. following a judicial process to reach a bad decision is somewhat better than the same decision ordered behind the scenes, unacknowledged, out of the public eye and for reasons unknown.

but in a much bigger sense, the ruling is just idiotic. never mind that the decision is hard to reconcile with article 20, section 1 of the republic's constitution. in issuing the ban, the court cited the fact that blogging sites can be used to promote religious extremism. which is true. but they can also be used to counter religious extremism. they can also be used to talk about stamp collecting, or sing the praises of president nazarbayev. by their nature, blogging sites are content neutral. the court might as well have banned blank sheets of paper. you never know what some extremist could write on one of them!