June 19-26, 2015
Roskomnadzor blocks YouTube
Russian Internet and Media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, added YouTube to its blacklist of websites. The reason behind the blockage is a 2013 video by Anonymous about Internet censorship in Russia. According to the Russian court’s ruling, the video is extremist and had to be banned. Roskomnadzor attempted to block 14 YouTube IP-addresses, rendering the whole site inaccessible for several hours. Accessibility issues are likely due to the fact that Youtube uses the HTTPS protocol. Assuming no compromises, the HTTPS protocol allows the blocking of the domain, but not the specific webpage. Thus, it is possible to filter www.youtube.com as a whole, but not to filter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcM14Al83Ls individually. Users in YouTube has since been accessible again.
Turkmenistan to offer high-speed Internet
Turkmenistan’s Ministry of Telecommunications will establish better high-speed Internet connection in the country. At the last government meeting, president Berdymukhamedov announced that the government is working on measures to provide necessary technical means for high-speed Internet access. The government plans to modernize the infrastructure and connect to fibre-optical communication systems via Kazakhstan, Britain, Russia and Turkey. Previously, the main barrier to Internet access for the majority of citizens was its high cost, so it remains to be seen whether improved infrastructure will translate into wider access. Ranked 178 out of 180 in the Reporters Without Borders’ 2015 World Press Freedom Index, Turkmenistan’s regime is unlikely to loosen controls on access to information even with better Internet infrastructure.
Lurkmore to close as conflict with Roskomnadzor intensifies
The Russian crowdsourced encyclopedia Lurkmore.to will close as its conflict with Roskomnadzor is nowhere near to being solved. Lurkmore founder Dmitry Homak says that he will freeze the project and it will remain only as a piece of Russian Internet history. Homak claims that Roskomnadzor blockings and frequent requests to remove content are the reason for this decision. Lurkmore will close an option to add new articles or edit already existing articles but the website itself will be accessible. Roskomnadzor blocked access to Lurkmore at least three times in the first half of 2015 and held the main website owners responsible for unassociated mirror websites.
Azerbaijan to offer more e-services
Azerbaijan is improving e-government accessibility and introducing new online services. Azerbaijan is introducing more e-government services on the e-government portal, operated by the Data Computing Center. The Ministry of Communications and High Technologies announced that e-government users will be able to apply for an insurance certificate online. Also, the Cabinet of Ministers announced that e-services will include electronic privatisation of government property. Authorities aim to minimise opportunities for bribery by formalising a transparent process of interactions between citizen and official. The e-government portal is now the key instrument of cooperation between the government, citizens, and business sector.