April 11-17, 2015
Ukraine takes steps to increase transparency
The Ukrainian government will develop an open online database to publish all public expenditures. This is contained in Ukrainian parliament Law No 2171 on Access to Public Information, which Parliament passed on April 10th. The database will contain data on state purchasing activities including information on government contracts, parties, payments, and terms., a register of companies, the state register of government properties, the state register of universities and non-government organizations, and data of all government departments. All information is to be openly available to the public and available for copying, reporting, and further dissemination. This is an important step towards transparency and government accountability.
Russia introduces customs duties on foreign media
The Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications will introduce additional customs duties on printed foreign newspapers and magazines sold within Russia. On April 15th, the Ministry announced that it will introduce draft amendments to the Law on Media. At present time there are no existing customs on licenses for selling foreign print media in Russia which the Ministry claims puts Russian print media in an unfavourable position on the market Draft amendments, introduced under the framework of the fight against extremism, will also contain new regulations for the refusal and revocation of licenses for foreign media. This is worrying given the recent legislative activities within Russia, including the exit and subsequent re-entry of CNN into the Russian market.
Uzbekistan upgrades its mobile infrastructure
On April 15th, state-owned mobile operator Uzbektelekom mobile (Uzmobile) launched a GSM network for its customers. GSM is the default global standard for mobile telecommunications. This is part of a wider effort to develop ICT within Uzbekistan. In February 2014, President Islam Karimov signed a decree to establish a national operator and launch GSM network and operator officially announced a commercial launch of 2G and 3G cellular telecom networks in Tashkent and Tashkent region. Additionally, Uzmobile is piloting a 4G network in Tashkent to be launched by September 2015. Combined, the government appears hope that the effects of the establishment of a dedicated ICT ministry, the national operator’s launch of a GSM network, and the soon-to-be-released 4G service will improve Uzbekistan’s outmoded ICT infrastructure and governance.
Roskomnadzor goes after porn
Russian Media and Internet watchdog Roskomnadzor announced that it intends to block 136 pornographic websites. Roskomnadzor will block the websites in compliance with the court decision passed in the Russian Republic of Tatarstan. The court required websites to remove pornographic content within 3 days to avoid blockings. Roskomnadzor did not disclose any particular websites but noted that it will block Russian and foreign websites. Vadim Ampelonsky, Roskomnadzor press secretary, said that this is the first time the watchdog will block such a large number of pornographic websites carrying out a single court decision. In its decision the court relied on international conventions signed by the Russian Empire and Soviet Union 1910 and 1923 on distributing obscene materials. Both conventions prohibit distribution of pornographic materials. This is part of a broader move to limit and monitor online content in Russia.
Information security conference in Azerbaijan
On April 13th and 14th, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan and OSCE held a conference on information security. The National Security in the Information Age Conference focused on issues of development and improvement of national information security. In particular, the Government of Azerbaijan wanted to gain support for its information-security policies and promote international cooperation in the field of information security. Not only the OSCE supported the conference, American Ambassador to Azerbaijan Robert Cekuta delivered remarks, noting and supporting Azerbaijan’s development as a regional ICT hub. The involvement of multiple stakeholders holding different views can lead to progressive legislation in information-security standards and regulation.