February 21-27 2015
CNN to return to Russia
On February 25th 2015, Russian watchdog Roskomnadzor approved CNN International’s application for a universal broadcast license. On December 31st 2014, CNN International officially ceased broadcasting in Russia. CNN representatives said that the reason for terminating its work in Russia was the implementation of the amendments to the Media Law which introduced a 20% cap on foreign capital in media outlets. Another reason was a separate law banning pay TV channels from carrying adds. Due to the opaque nature of the negotiations, it is not immediately apparent the reasons or conditions for CNN’s return to the market.
Azerbaijan to open a technology park
On February 27th 2015, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev signed a decree establishing a technology park in Mingachevir. The Ministry of Communications and High Technologies will regulate the park’s functioning. The main objective of the Mingachevir Technology Park is to ensure sustainable development and competitiveness of the country’s economy, the expansion of innovative and high-tech industries, and to support research and development of new technologies. Authorities hope this will contribute to the development and expansion of the ICT sector, which is already the fastest growing sector of the Azerbaijani economy.
Ukraine to revoke accreditation of more than 100 Russian media outlets
On February 21st 2015, the Ukrainian Security Service released a list of Russian media outlets whose accreditation at the government bodies will be suspended. Security Service spokesperson Olena Hytlyanska said that the list consists of more than 100 Russian media outlets including newspapers, TV channels, and websites. The ban applies to all media outlets registered in Russia. the Cabinet of Ministers must establish the procedure for accreditation of foreign media and journalists in Ukraine. The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, said that such measures are excessive. Mijatovich also noted that Ukrainian government should provide the full list of banned media outlets.
Belarus will block anonymizers
Following the bill to restrict access to anonymity networks like Tor (The Onion Router) in Russia, the Belarusian Ministry of Communications and Informatization (MCI) announced that it will block access to proxy servers and anonymity networks. The Operational and Analytical Center (OAC) of Belarus passed a decree allowing the inclusion of anonymizers and proxies under the Belarusian blacklist. According to the regulation, ISPs and operators must restrict access to websites included in the blacklist. Restricting access to anonymizers can affect journalists, political and human rights activists as it limits their ability to act anonymously. Troublingly, the scope of the law is unclear; will proxy servers used for secure workplace communication and login authentication also be banned?
Ukrainian President to establish open government
President Poroshenko introduced a bill which will establish an open database of state-related information. The bill introduces the European standard regarding open data. Open state data will be publicly available for research, business projects, and public control over government activities and municipalities. New regulation will require state departments and institutions to regularly publish all information on their activities and budgets on a centralized government database and on their websites. Open data will enhance public control over government projects and budgeting as well as assist in research. Further, open government can support the fight against corruption.
Kyrgyz operator takes action against implementation of SORM
Kyrgyz mobile operator Winline (Sapatacom) criticised the use of the surveillance system SORM, a technical system to monitor telephone and Internet communications. A recent law passed in Kyrgyzstan requires all ISPs to install SORM and allow law enforcement agencies to monitor citizens on an around-the-clock basis. Winline argued in the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan that this violates the constitution because it allows for 24-hour surveillance of all citizens, a gross violation of the citizenry’s constitutional rights. Winline also claims that the law passed in summer 2014 leaves businesses in unfavourable position. The operator noted that the necessary upgrades are expensive and operators are forced to cover all costs. This will unfairly increase the cost of ICT technology and services for the average Kyrgyzstani user.
Licensed anti-virus software no longer sold in Belarus
At the present, the Operational and Analytical Centre (OAC) of Belarus is no longer certifying new anti-virus software, meaning it is only possible to buy outdated versions. Belarusian legislation requires all anti-virus software to undergo a compulsory certification by bodies within the country. In January 2014, the OAC warned software distributors against selling uncertified software and suspended the sale of software. This occurred again in 2015. Until Belarusian distributors are able to sell anti-virus software, computers and individuals are at an increased risk of malicious activity.
Ukraine to launch two international TV channels
Ukrainian Ministry of Information Policy, established in January 2015, announced that it will launch two TV channels: the international channel Ukrainian Tomorrow and a military channel. Ukrainian Tomorrow will broadcast in English, targeting the same audience as Russian channel RT. However, Yuriy Stets, the head of the Ministry of Information Policy, said that the government financing will not cover all the expenses and American and European partners will provide additional financial support. The Ministry is planning to launch a military channel similar to Russian “Zvezda”. This is the first initiative of the Ministry, which counts opposing Russian information aggression and developing Ukraine’s information policy strategy as two of its five key missions.