March 14-20 2015
Belarusian ISPs to record users’ Internet activities
On March 14th 2015, the Ministry of Communications and Informatization published Decree No 6 which states that from January 1st 2016, ISPs in Belarus must monitor and record information on users’ online activities. ISPs will retain all online activities and users’ personal data, including the user’s full name, address, phone number, and MAC-address, for at least one year. The Ministry’s decree corresponds with the President’s Decree No 6 “Concerning prompt measures to counteract the illegal drug trade” and Decree No 6/8 of the Operations and Analysis Center under the President of the Republic of Belarus which allow authorities to block websites and anonymizers (such as TOR and VPNs) without a court order. The loss of anonymity and increased logging speaks to greater levels of online repression in Belarus.
Kyrgyzstani citizens vote only after submitting biometrics
On March 18th 2015, the Kyrgyzstani Parliament debated amendments to the Law on Presidential and Parliamentary Elections. According to Deputy Abdyzhapar Bekmatov, one of the authors of the Law, citizens can only vote only after registering their biometric data. Electoral rolls will include only registered citizens and will be based on biometrics database. Legal experts worry that the compulsory biometric registration involves privacy concerns and will ultimately disenfranchise citizens not comfortable with submitting this data.
Municipalities to monitor Internet traffic in Russian schools
Russian Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications (Minkomsvyaz) introduced a bill amending the Law on protection of children from information harmful to their health and development. The amendments state that municipalities will now begin monitoring schools’ Internet traffic, mainly because no one is monitoring the information properly now. Introduced in 2012, the Law required the creation of a list of resources harmful for children which all operators and ISPs must comply with and restrict access to the listed websites. The Safe Internet League suggested creating SchoolNet to better limit access inappropriate information. This seeks to address a lack of clarity in the law, as Russian Internet and Media watchdog Roskomnadzor claims that this area is outside its competence.
Russian Roskomnadzor to block pages on Lukmore.to
Russian Media and Internet watchdog Roskomnadzor threatened online encyclopedia Lukmore.to with blocking if it did not remove illegal information on five webpages. The watchdog states that Lukmore’s use of HTTPS protocol does not allow it to restrict individual pages, instead Roskomnadzor will have to block the entire site. ISPs note that HTTPS protocol requires them to restrict access to the IP address, affecting not only Lukmore, but also all other websites using the same IP address. Threatening HTTPS protocols will have monumental privacy and security concerns; HTTPS is responsible for creating secure connections to submit everything from passwords to banking information. If it goes, so goes your personal information.
Russian software developers support keeping software production local
On March 16th 2015, Russian software developers proposed that the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications ensure that state tenders apply to products made on the Crimean peninsula. Importantly, this is in response to the US sanctions which ban the US companies from doing business in Crimea. The Head of the Ministry, Nikolay Nikifirov, received the programmers’ suggestions positively, and stated that he would include their suggestions in a bill restricting foreign software in government procurement.
Kazakhstan sues unidentified hackers
On March 13th 2015, authorities in Kazakhstan filed a complaint with the Manhattan Federal Court against a group of unidentified hackers. In January 2015, hackers stole thousands of confidential emails of Kazakhstani officials and representatives of the international law firm Curtis Mallet-Prevost Colt & Mosle LLP. The firm was advising the Republic of Kazakhstan regarding development of the Karachaganak oil and gas field in 2012 and on a settlement agreement with the consortium developing the Kashagan oil and gas field in 2014. The hackers’ motivations are still unknown, and exactly what Kazakhstan is hoping to do by suing unidentified hackers’ is unclear.