1. Federal Security Service of Russia (FSB) suggested penalizing public officials using “uncertified encryption means”, such as Viber, Whatsapp and Telegram messengers, for work purposes. FSB was put in charge of preparing relevant legislation by spring 2017. Some experts behind the initiative believe that any correspondence involving public officials may contain state secrets and must be encrypted. The uncertified protocols above don’t allow special services to monitor the correspondence and might have encryptions backdoors.

2. Uzbek government portal will require e-signature to access its services online, but the complicated and costly procedure for obtaining it may discourage citizens and restrain the development of e-government. DR sources indicate that popular opinion equals this requirement to a form of “digital censorship.”

DR comments: The development of e-government services is one of the expressed objectives of the new government, as it attempts to improve ICT-based economy. As such, any genuine efforts at expanding this sphere will be contingent on improving the citizens’ access.

3. On Oct. 3 the government of Belarus merged two state-owned operators, Beltelecom and the DVB-T re-transmission operator BRTPC. Beltelecom took over the rights and obligations of BRTPC, including shares in three media companies. Now Beltelecom owns 34% in Radio BA International, 34% in Russkoe Radio, and 29% in Cosmos TV Media, which makes it the largest media owner in the country.

4. Ukrainian anti-corruption reform is at risk as lawmakers and public officials openly sabotage the system of electronic asset and income declarations, said the Deputy Justice Minister Sergiy Petukhov, who oversees European integration and was one of few who submitted his e-declaration. So far not a single minister had filed a declaration, and only one out of Ukraine’s 423 Verkhovna Rada members had filed one. As of Oct. 6, only 3,717 officials, or 7 % of Ukrainian officials and politicians, have submitted their declarations, as time runs out before the Oct. 31.

5. On Oct. 5, Russia’s Central Bank announced that along with the market participants, it developed a technical prototype “Masterchain” for financial messaging, based on the distributed ledger technology (DLT). First transactions were successfully made between Qiwi Bank, Sberbank, Alfa Bank, Bank Otkritiye, and Tinkoff Bank. Blockchain prototype “Masterchain” is a DLT networking tool which allows market participants “to promptly confirm data actuality and enhances communication speed between the counterparties and assures required confidence in financial transactions.”

6. As a result of negotiations held in Astana on Oct. 5, Kazakh internet providers decided not to raise transit fees for Kyrgyzstan. Their previous intentions to double prices were driven by incurred investments in new equipment and line extensions. Earlier in September, the Kyrgyz Antimonopoly Service filed a complaint with Eurasian Economic Commission accusing Kazakh ISPs of prices fixing. Kyrgyz internet users and expert community welcomed the agreement.

DR comments: This crisis forced the Kyrgyz government to seriously consider the country’s telecom independence, including searching for alternatives, such as purchasing internet from China. 90% of internet traffic goes from neighboring Kazakhstan which reserves the right to set tariffs on transit and control content.

7. On Oct.5 Tajik parliament ratified the protocol of Collective Security Treaty Organization on cybercrime prevention. The document, signed in 2014 by Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, Armenia, and Tajikistan, aims to create an information security system and facilitate the coordination of relevant law enforcement activities.

DR comments: Earlier this year, Tajik authorities announced plans to establish a cybercrime prevention center. Due to very serious concerns related to the rise of violent extremism in Central Asia, this move is seen as part of a multi-stage process in Tajikistan and neighbouring countries to enhance regional cooperation on combatting terrorism and crimes through Internet.

Upcoming events:

Oct. 13, Moscow, Russia – Cyber Crime Con 2016. Visit website.
Oct. 18, Kyiv, Ukraine – IX EMA Eastern Europe Anti-Fraud Conference. Visit website.
Oct. 30, Almaty, Kazakhstan – DEF CON hacking conference. Visit website.