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Facebook responds to Internet crackdown in Kazakhstan

Meta Platform, Facebook's parent company, denied a statement by the Kazakh government. The Kazakh government said it had granted the authoritarian state special permission to "process" Facebook content.
The dispute has cast new light on Kazakhstan's efforts to control online activity. Activists and opposition supporters are routinely prosecuted in the country for Posting on social media. A draft law would go further, forcing foreign tech giants such as Facebook to set up local offices and make local executives legally liable for the content.
In a statement on Nov. 1, Kazakhstan's Ministry of Information announced that in what it called a joint statement with Facebook, the two countries had agreed to "cooperate closely on harmful content," He added that Facebook has given Kazakh authorities "direct and exclusive access to Facebook's 'content Reporting System' (CRS), which helps governments report content that may violate Facebook's global content policy and Kazakhstan's local laws."
Kazakhstan is the first central Asian country to enjoy this privilege, according to the Foreign Ministry. Meta says it did not give Kazakhstan any special access. "We follow a consistent global process to evaluate individual requests in a way that is independent of any government to comply with Facebook policies, local laws, and international human rights standards," Facebook spokesman Ben McConaughey said in an email to Reuters.
To add to the confusion, George Chen, Meta's Hong Kong-based head of regional public policy, shared a copy published by Kazakh state media after the company denied any role in the statement. Chen is leading the negotiations with Kazakhstan. "We are pleased to provide the 'content reporting system' to the Kazakh government, and we hope it will help the government deal with harmful content more effectively and effectively manner," the statement quoted Chen as saying.
Mr. Nursultan has framed his efforts to control social media as a child protection measure, with local media calling the draft law a "cyber-bullying" bill. The lower house of parliament overwhelmingly approved the legislation on its first reading in September.
Civil society activists have widely criticized the bill as an attempt to further restrict free speech. More than 10,000 people have signed a petition asking parliament to drop the bill.
When Kazakh officials celebrated an "exclusive" deal with Facebook on Nov. 1, Aidos Sarym, a lawmaker and one of the bill's loudest sponsors, took credit. Sarym wrote on his Facebook page that because Facebook had heard the administration, he was now open to the mild language in the bill. Undeterred by his denials, Mr. Mehta responded on November 2nd: "Everyone has bureaucracy and political games.

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