The government of Belarus has enacted new regulation on VoIP telephony in the country, which it says is targeted at counteracting violations of IP traffic transmissions on domestic telecommunications networks. Enacted on 18 September 2016, the new rules will reportedly strengthen control of both IP voice and video calling services, although details are unclear as to how this will affect over-the-top (OTT) platforms such as Skype or Viber.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in March 2016 President Lukashenka signed the Decree ‘On Improvement of Transmission Procedure of Telecommunication Messages’, which specifies that users of telecoms services (including the internet) are prohibited from using ‘hardware and software tools, which together are used to transform data exchange protocol used for voice and other messages from a subscriber who makes a call and deliver such messages to another subscriber using numbers that do not belong to the subscriber who owns the number’. Under the Covmina Decree (contained in the Council of Ministers’ decision of 22 August 2016 662), from 18 September 2016 local operators now have the right to block IP telephony traffic, including traffic from sources relating to outstanding cases of alleged violations. The resolution makes additions and changes to the ‘Rules of Rendering Telecommunication services (17 August 2006 1055, governing Belarusian operators). In particular, the Covmina Decree reportedly corrects the rights, duties and responsibilities of the Belarusian carriers, so as to: ‘concretise the right of telecommunication operators to suspend or terminate the provision of telecommunications services, block IP telephony traffic, including in cases of violation of the order of traffic transmission on telecommunications networks’.