Facebook, Google, Twitter in Kazakhstan’s crosshairs

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The Internet giants have been swept up in a lawsuit seeking to ban opposition media.

Facebook, Twitter, Google, and LiveJournal may become collateral damage as Kazakhstan prosecutors attempt to close down opposition media outlets.

If prosecutors are successful in shutting down the publications, which they claim are undermining security in the republic, they will also seek to shutter their related Facebook pages and LiveJournal blogs.

On Thursday, a court banned one opposition publication, a day after prosecutors sought to shut down eight newspapers and 23 Web sources—all of which are under the umbrella of information portal Respublika (Republic)—along with a number of international news sites that are “inflaming social hatred.”

Prosecutors also called for several unregistered political movements to be classified as extremist groups and banned.

A lawyer for Respublika said Facebook, Twitter, Google, and LiveJournal should answer for themselves alongside the website in court.

“The company Google is a defendant. I don’t know if they know it or not, but they are on trial and they need to present their comment on this lawsuit,” Sergey Utkin said Friday, according to RussiaToday.

The General Prosecutor’s Office of Kazakhstan denied as much, claiming they’re named in the lawsuit in reference to specific accounts on those various services.

RussiaToday notes that the prosecutors’ move follows the sentencing of a number of opposition leaders found guilty of demanding an overthrow of the government and inflaming social hatred, following riots which resulted in the death of 16 people last December. One of those jailed, Vladimir Kozlov, reportedly had close ties with Respublika.

Photo by sly06/Flickr

Kris Holt

Kris Holt

Based in Montreal, Kris Holt has been writing about technology and web culture since 2010. He writes for Engadget and Tech News World, and his byline has also appeared in Paste, Salon, International Business Times, Mashable, and elsewhere.