When officials in Uzbekistan announced a contest to crown the country’s best Internet cafe, Diyorbek, an owner of a thriving spot in Andijan, entered, and, believing his business fulfilled all the criteria, he gave himself a decent shot at winning. Apart from having a dozen workstations in three well-furnished rooms, he blocks access to all "political, religious and porno websites." In the end, Diyorbek’s bid fell short, but the mere fact the contest occurred last summer signaled to him that authorities are reassessing their relationship with cyberspace.
Tashkent has earned a reputation for being an “Internet Enemy,” as the Paris-based watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) puts it. More than 250 websites deemed unfriendly to the state are blocked inside the country. They are mostly opposition websites and foreign news outlets, including EurasiaNet.org, The New York Times and many Russian newspapers (even RSF’s webpage is blocked).
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