Authorities in Uzbekistan tightened control over Internet cafes in the capital Tashkent in a bid to stem the impact of “violent and immoral” web content and video games on children.
A municipal resolution obliges the popular hangouts to close at 9 pm and bans children in the city of over two million from visiting the cafes during school hours or without a parent or guardian in the evenings.
“The increased number of videoclips, pictures, films and websites that promote aggression, violence and immorality in internet cafes and computer clubs is having a negative impact on underage youth,” the resolution said.
It “is one of the main reasons for the growing incidence of violence committed by minors,” it added.
Internet cafes, which are expected to comply within 10 days, have also been told to ensure computers are free of all materials promoting “promiscuity, religious extremism, nationalism, gambling” and to remove posters promoting cruelty and violence from their walls.
The government suggested that patriotic and educational posters can fill wall space instead.
Last year Uzbekistan ordered Internet cafes to install video cameras and keep records on users for three months at a time to ensure “the security of visitors” and “prevent negative factors” when using the Internet.
Uzbek authorities have long been criticised by rights groups for being intolerant of dissent and blocking websites critical of the government.
While Western and Russian social networks are not banned in the country, the government has tried hard to endorse local equivalents.
One such website, Youface.uz, was created in 2012 and bears a strong resemblance to Facebook but has not attracted anywhere near the nearly 1.4 billion monthly users of the US-based social media network.