May 09 — 15, 2015
Ukraine to establish a register of mobile phones
Ukraine introduced draft bill No 1888 to establish the compulsory registration of all radio-electronic devices and eliminate grey products from the market. Grey imports are devices that are legally made and sold in abroad, but imported illegally. This skirts tariffs and intellectual property legislation. The bill, which covers phones and tablets, will allow authorities to remotely disconnect unregistered devices. It also affects operators as their licenses can be revoked for improper use of their radio frequencies. In this case, improper use covers use of mobile devices in the Donbass, specifically by allowing insurgent forces to use information-communication technologies in their fight against the Ukrainian government. Operators opposed the bill in an open letter to the Prime-Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Several ISPs signed the letter saying that compulsory registration will violate the constitutional rights of Ukrainians as all devices will have to undergo compulsory registration or be cut off with no prior warning.
Russian Internet providers oppose content filtration
Russian Internet service providers (ISPs) from the Media Communications Union (MCU) opposed the Internet pre-filtration initiative introduced by the Safe Internet League (SIL). In order to protect children from potentially harmful content, SIL is in the process of developing legislative amendments to require ISPs to filter content on a person-by-person basis. Subscribers of legal age can opt out of the filtration by submitting a request (and showing their passport) to their ISP. Key members of the MCU, MTS, Megafon, Rostelecom, and Vimpelcom, criticised the initiative claiming will not protect children from all types of content, noting that encrypted content (such as HTTPS) would be unaffected. They also worry about the additional financial burdens as ISPs will be responsible for installing and maintaining this equipment themselves.
Kazakhstani ISP Transtelecom privatised
On May 14th 2015, the Kazakhstani government sold 49% stake of the mobile operator Transtelekom, one of the leading mobile operators and ISPs in Kazakhstan. However, authorities refused to disclose any information about the new owner of Transtelecom shares claiming it is a commercial secret. The new owner of 49% stake paid 8,94 billion Tenge (approx. 49 million US dollars) while the starting price was 6,82 billion (approx. 38 million US dollars), significantly more than was expected. The sale occurred under the State Privatization program, with another 106 state companies to be privatized by 2016. All proceeds of sales will be re-invested into other government projects. This is part of an attempt to bring more foreign investment to Kazakhstan.
PayPal blocks donation account in Russia
On May 13th 2015, PayPal blocked account of Russian activist, Vsevolod Chagaev, who created the account to support publication of Boris Nemtsov’s report Putin.War. Putin.War. is an in-depth study of Russian involvement in the Ukrainian conflict. Mr. Chagaev contacted PayPal and was told that it is not possible to receive financial support for political parties or political projects in Russia. However, how PayPal determined that Putin.War. was a political project is not clear. Notably, local experts from Yandex.Money state that Russian legislation does not forbid collecting donations to publish the report, raising troubling questions as to why PayPal would refuse to provide service to Mr. Chagaev.
Azerbaijan promoting the cyber-security convention
Azerbaijan is working to initiate the development of an international convention of cybercrime. Currently, there is only one international agreement on cybercrime: the Convention on Cybercrime introduced by the EU. On May 14th, Minister of Telecommunication and High Technologies Ali Abbasov announced that the government fully supports the international harmonization of cyber-security policies. However, Azerbaijani authorities are concerned that the Convention did not receive a wide recognition of the international community. Authorities in Azerbaijan are promoting the adoption of a single global cyber security convention. They also note that this will assist countries in a global issue of cyber terrorism and information security as global convention will harmonize their efforts and policies.