March 21-27 2015
Russian law grants popular bloggers protection and restrictions
Bloggers worry that the Russian State Duma will pass a bill which equates bloggers that have 3000 daily readers with journalists. The proposed bill will give bloggers the same rights and responsibilities as journalists. Authors of the bill claim that without it popular bloggers are in a disadvantageous position as they do not enjoy the same level of protection as journalists. However, it also means that the bill will impose the same responsibilities and the Law on Mass Media will regulate the blogosphere. Bloggers will bear risks of civil, administrative and criminal liability for the information they post including liability for slander, abusive language, verbal abuse of government officials in mass media, The Federation Council criticized the bill asserting that bloggers are clearly not journalists and the law must not require them to share the same level of responsibility.
Twitter cooperating less with Russian authorities
Twitter no longer responds to all requests of the Russian Internet watchdog Roskomnadzor. Roskomnadzor submitted an official request to Twitter asking to disclose personal information regarding 108 bloggers to remove information it considered as extremist. It is not clear exactly what personal information or specifically what information Roskomnadzor was seeking. Roskomnadzor claims that Twitter is purposefully delaying the process. The head of Roskomnadzor, Aleksandr Zharov, said that Twitter had previously ignored to restrict access to illegal content in Russia. Roskomnadzor requested that Facebook and Twitter remove the information related to the event. Both Facebook and Twitter removed information at Roskomnadzor’s request at first, but, realising the negative effect this would have on their international image, began refusing further requests from Roskomnadzor to block political content.
Uzbekistan takes steps towards transparency
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.
Azerbaijan improving accessibility in the Caucasus
This week, the Ministry of Communications and High Technologies, announced that it will launch the largest Tier3 data centre in the region by the end of March 2015. The data centre will have 200 server racks and will continue to function even in the case of natural disasters, system failures, and power outages. The centre will also provide data-processing services to other countries of the region and commercial services to companies such as Google and Facebook. This addresses a major shortage of computing power in the region, until 2012 most Azerbaijani websites were located outside the country. The more computing power that is located locally, the better service will be for local Internet users.
Tax in Belarus to increase consumer prices
Mobile users in Belarus will pay additional charges for mobile services. President Lukashenko signed Decree No 130 which imposed an additional 1.5% tax on mobile carriers. The new tax payments will go to an additional fund within the Ministry of Communication and Informatization. The preamble of the decree states that the tax is necessary for the development telecommunications and information technologies. According to the document, operators will pay the tax from their revenues generated from selling their services. This means that operators will have to include the new 1.5% tax to the cost of their services and pass the cost on to customers.
Uzbekistan looks to enable e-commerce
Uzbekistan is attempting to boost e-commerce both within the country and for Uzbekistani business abroad. On March 23rd 2015, the Committee on Information and Communication Technologies of the Legislative Chamber organized a roundtable discussion of the Law on Electronic Commerce. Participants at the roundtable hope a new redaction of the law will create a better legislative environment for e-commerce and promote national products internationally by allowing international customers to purchase goods from Uzbekistan online. The new regulation will simplify the process of electronic payments. This initiative comes along with the plan to establish an online market to sell train and plane tickets, and souvenirs.