Ukrainian Internet Outlawed

A new legislation issued in Ukraine violates many of people's constitutional rights
Scandals about the Internet are still raging in Ukraine. The authorities want to control everything possible, even the Internet community that is a rather independent sphere nowadays. More and more projects appear that aim at regulation of the Internet mass media or the UA domain. PRAVDA.Ru already reported that the Ukrainian special service took notice of the domain. The government of Ukraine has suggested an idea that it's necessary to seize control over the whole of the Internet. Why focus just on some domains when the government can make all creators of the Internet content, providers and all owners of digital technique stay within certain limits?

Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich registered in the Supreme Rada motion called "About Activity in the Sphere of Informatization". The Ukrainian Internet community considers the legislation an attempt to outlaw the whole of the Internet. The terms mentioned in the legislation are astonishingly new. For example, it doesn't specify any personal or corporate websites, online versions of paper editions or Internet newspapers; it calls all of them "objects of the informatization sphere". Consequently, the legislation doesn't admit there are Internet journalists; they are called "persons related to creation, circulation, usage, storage and processing of objects in the sphere of informatization." The government of Ukraine wants to establish total control over these objects and people. It is said that the new legislation "regulates relations that arise at creation, circulation and usage of Internet technologies, products and resources, at rendering services using the technologies and products." The Ukrainian Internet community commented upon the new legislation in the "object of informatization", "The legislation is made to regulate everything moving around." The publication appeared under the headline "The Cabinet of Ministers Turns Ukraine into a Madhouse".

In accordance with the new legislation, owners, dealers and users of information technologies and digital information are called "subjects of action in the informatization sphere". The legislation demands that the subjects must provide "reliable, complete and timely information"; they also must protect the Internet users "from material, moral and physical damage." It is prohibited to spread "forbidden, perverted and doubtful information" by means of "informatization objects".

Who is to estimate whether information spread on the Internet corresponds to the terms mentioned in the legislation or not (this particularly concerns the term "perverted information")? Internet providers should perform the role of censors as they are responsible for "causing damage" through "objects of informatization". Unauthorized liquidation of digital information is prohibited in accordance with the new legislation. The legislation also imposes a ban on storage and circulation of information with abuse words (do they mean the tapes connected with the Major Melnichenko scandal?). It is strange but at first nobody could guess that the new legislation might cause much trouble; indeed the new document looked rather intricate. It took a lot of time for people to realize its main idea and raise the alarm.

On Tuesday, the public council for freedom of speech and information spread a statement "on attempts of the governmental authority to restrict the freedom of speech on the Ukrainian Internet." The statement says that the legislation suggested by the government applies to the national component of the Internet, the local network systems and other objects of modern automated information technologies, including personal data media. Thorough examination of the legislation gives every reason to believe that implementation of the document will result in establishment of total control over objects of the informatization sphere (the national component of the Internet first of all) that will be performed by law enforcement authorities and other governmental authorities.

Implementation of the new legislation may entail violation of people's constitutional rights: the freedom of speech; the right to chose, store and spread information; the right for inviolability of private life and the right for privacy of correspondence. The authors of the statement circulated by the pubic council for freedom of speech and information think that adoption of the legislation will contradict the international legal standards applied in the informatization sphere. The Ukrainskaya Pravda newspaper reports that in accordance with the international legal practice "the Internet is beyond the governmental regulation, because information activity in the global network is equal to confidential communication or getting information on demand." Probably, the Ukrainian government doesn't realize this fact. supposes it is not ruled out that the legislation has come from the pen of the Ukraine Security Service.

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Author`s name Margarita Kicherova