March 7-13 2015
Grani.ru goes to court
Russian online newspaper Grani.ru submitted a claim to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), regarding the block of its website. On March 13th 2014, Russian watchdog Roskomnadzor blocked Grani.ru, Kasparov.ru and EJ.ru under the Lugovoi law. The law authorizes the prosecutor general to request that Roskomnadzor block access to websites if they contain extremist content, call for riots, or call for participation in unsanctioned public gatherings. Roskomnadzor claims that Grani.ru contained calls for illegal public gatherings. In its claim to the ECHR, Grani.ru states that by applying the Lugovoi law Roskomnadzor did not take into account Grani’s status as a registered mass media outfit. The case is still pending.
Azerbaijan distributes more e-signatures
Azerbaijani authorities noted an increase in requests for electronic signatures. Azerbaijan began the use of e-signatures to allow for easier access to e-government services. In an effort to increase efficiency between government branches themselves as well as improve citizen interaction, more and more services are moving online. Currently, the Azerbaijani government offers approximately 333 services on e-government portals, accessible with an e-signature. The National Certification Centre claims that the number of requests in February increased by 2.5% in comparison with January. The majority of e-signatures are utilized by government bodies, government bodies utilise 17,773 out of 30,092 total assigned signatures. Authorities also noted a significant increase in the use of e-government services.
Ukraine passes open data legislation
In an effort to increase transparency of public accounts, the Ukrainian Parliament adopted legislation which will allow public access to the register of corporate entities, register of NGOs, the state register of media organizations, the entirety of state purchases, city planning budgets, and the register of state properties. The most important aspect of the new legislation is open information about state purchasing activities which will include information on government contracts, parties, payments, and terms. The law states that all data is to be publicly available and free of charge.
Russia to develop its own cyber-security system
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said that Russia will develop its own cyber-security system to protect the country against cyber threats. Rogozin claimed that cyber threats to Russia can come from either a coalition of technically advanced countries or terrorist organizations. Rogozin also required the Military-Industrial Commission to create a cyber-security council and an information-security board. The board and the council will work on harmonization and development of legislation in the field of cyber security. The information -security board will consist of developers, legislators, and business representatives. Support for this initiative comes from multiple areas; Minister of Telecom and Mass Communications Nikolay Nikiforov confirmed the risk of cyber attacks is increasing due to Russia’s political and economic situation.
Cyber attack on government websites in Kyrgyzstan
On March 12th 2015, hackers attacked the Kyrgyz Ministry of Labour, Immigration, and Youth website. The hacker “Zombie_L33T” from a group “Ngieran Cyber Army” (sic) claimed responsibility. It is the second time hackers took down the Ministry’s website this year. The previous cyber attack website took place on February 21st 2015. However, this is not the first attempt to obstruct the government’s online activities. On August 25th 2014, unknown hackers attacked the government administration website redirecting all its visitors to websites advertising Forex market. In November 2014, hacktivists took down the Ministry of Culture website. The regularity with which successful attacks occur suggests the size of the challenge that Kyrgyzstan faces to ensure security and continuity of services in cyberspace.
Russia establishes the Institute for the Development of the Internet
On March 10th 2015, the Institute for the Development of the Internet (IDI) had its first meeting. The purpose of the IDI is to coordinate industry responses to government legislation and activities as well as provide research and insight into market trends and developments. The IDI has representatives for specific sectors of the Internet industry: the Media Communications Union (Internet service providers and operators), Liveinternet (private industry), the Russian Association for Electronic Communications (online businesses), Internet Initiatives Foundation (Internet startups and venture business), and Regional (Russian) Center for Internet Technologies (Users’ rights and interests). The supervisory board consists of representatives of 20 major Russian Internet companies including Rambler, Mail.ru, VKontakte, Yandex, Kaspersky Laboratory, and Softkey. The IDI aims to become the key player in the development of the Internet in Russia.
IBM opens its first office in the South Caucasus
On March 12th 2015, Minister of Communications and High Technologies of Azerbaijan Elmir Velizade announced the opening of the first IBM office in South Caucasus. Mr. Velizade states that cooperation with IBM supports Azerbaijan’s national strategy to attract more investments into the ICT sector. The Minister also noted that IBM will bring significant ICT expertise and will help the country to develop the ICT sector. Mr. Velizade said that the government will cooperate with IBM in e-government and data-processing centers developments. Ilya Kravtsov, General Director of IBM in Azerbaijan, noted that the company’s priorities lie in the government and banking sectors.