This week Internet news sites in Uzbekistan have been blocked for unknown reasons, the independent news site fergananews.com reports.
While for the last five years, some sites devoted specificially to news from Uzbekistan, such as fergananews.com itself, uznews.net, uzmetronom.com and others have been blocked from view, this latest problem affects sites that have been accessible in the past.
Local Internet service providers (ISPs) do not have the capacity to block sites, telecommunications experts told fergananews.com. Yet the national state provider of telephone lines, Uzbektelekom, could do so. Even so, if the blockage were being made by this state company, all the ISPs would show the same list of blocked sites -- and they vary.
On August 9, fergananews.com reported that users of Beeline, a Russian mobile phone service, have been unable to open the Russian news sites gazeta.ru, newsru.com, utro.ru, ruvr.ru, sovsport.ru and an Uzbek news site, uzreport.com. Access to lenta.ru was blocked for a time then reopened.
Beeline denied reports that any sites were blocked by their affiliate services in Uzbekistan. The company said that as a service provider, it is not authorized to block access to web sites on the basis of content, and did not receive any orders from any state agencies to deny access to any sites.
Meanwhile, users of other services including Sharktelekom were also reporting problems accessing news sites and Live Journal, the blogging platform, Google, and rambler.ru. These sites have been reached in recent days only by proxy servers and anonymizers, fergananews.com reports.
Since Uzbek officials, mobile phone providers, and ISPs are all denying that there is any blockage of the Internet, there is speculation that the Uzbek security agencies are denying access due to concern about how the news of riots in the United Kingdom and also ongoing demonstrations in the Middle East could affect events in Uzbekistan.
Fergananews.com does not recall any such large-scale blockage of Internet sites in the past.