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A view shows the Baiterek monument after the lights go out for Earth Hour in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan on March 27, 2021. REUTERS / Vasily Fedosenko / File Photo

ALMATY, Nov. 2 (Reuters) – Facebook owner Meta Platforms (FB.O) on Tuesday denied a claim by the Kazakh government that he had been granted exclusive access to the social network’s content reporting system.

In what he called a joint statement with Facebook, the Kazakh government on Monday presented the move as a compromise solution, after the Central Asian nation threatened to block Facebook for millions of local users.

The Nour-Sultan cabinet had said that an agreement, which would have been the first of its kind in the post-Soviet region of Central Asia, would streamline the process of removing content deemed illegal by Kazakhstan.

But in an email to Reuters, Ben McConaghy, director of Meta Platforms for Political Communications in Asia-Pacific, said: “First, we have not issued a joint statement with the Kazakh government – instead, the Kazakh government issued its own statement based on discussions. we had with them about our global process of requests from governments to restrict content that violates local law. “

He added that the process “is not exclusive to Kazakhstan and is the same as governments around the world.”

The oil-rich nation’s parliament in September began work on a bill that would allow the government to block social media and messaging apps unless their developers open offices in the country and appoint executives. personally responsible for examining complaints from the authorities.

MP Aidos Sarym, one of the developers of the bill, said on his Facebook page on Monday that the bill paved the way for talks with the tech giants and that authorities are now ready to relax its policies. provisions.

Critics of the bill have accused authorities in the autocratic nation of 19 million people of seeking new censorship tools, while the bill’s authors say it aims to prevent cyberbullying and the spread of ‘other dangerous content.

The government said there are at least 3.2 million Facebook users in Kazakhstan. Other applications of Meta Platforms such as Instagram and WhatsApp are even more popular.

Facebook has long been criticized by an advocacy group for being too compliant with government censorship demands.

The service has mainly avoided closures outside of countries like China, where it has long been stranded, but has come under pressure this year in a number of countries, including India, Vietnam and Myanmar.

Report by Olzhas Asezov; Editing by William Maclean and Kenneth Maxwell

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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