1. Developers from Azerbaijan presented a new television audience measurement service in the run up to digital TV transition scheduled on Dec. 1. It will allow to monitor 100 foreign and 12 national TV channels watched by five thousand household in five cities: Baku, Hyrdalan, Sumqayit, Mingachevir, and Ganja. New equipment also covers both digital and analog TV viewers. This will improve the accuracy and quality of TV content evaluation. The results of monitoring may be used by TV channels to adjust their packages.
2. National Assembly of Armenia ratified the Collective Security Treaty Organization protocol on cybercrime prevention in the area of information, which had been signed in 2014 by the CSTO member states – Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan. The parties agreed to exchange information about new cybercrimes and methods of their prevention and investigation.
DR comments: While ratification was expected, the quality of the information to be shared among member-states remains a key issue. Given recent clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan, officials in the former country need to be assured that their sensitive data would be adequately protected.
3. The Russian Ministry of Defense launched its own secure intranet known as “closed data transfer segment.” It was reported that “the military internet,” has its own email service for the transmission of sensitive materials, including documents marked “top secret.”
DR comments: Apart from ensuring sensitive information and communications are secured, this development is seen as part of a Russian need for a ‘Plan B’ strategy, in case of further deterioration in geopolitical relations. While official sources deny any desires to switch internet off in the country, the infrastructure and procedures are put in place nonetheless.
4. On Oct. 19 Office of OSCE Project Coordinator in Uzbekistan announced a tender process for the development of a web portal for civil organizations in the country. New portal will be similar to the official websites of government bodies. Indicative offers are expected by Nov.8, 2016.
5. Sixty-seven Ukrainian online shops were compromised by massive credit-card theft along with almost six thousand e-commerce websites. These online skimming attacks were first discovered by Dutch researcher Willem de Groot. His data suggests there are three distinct malware families with a total of nine variants. The malicious code is obfuscated and is deployed using known vulnerabilities in content management solutions or e-commerce software that website owners have failed to patch.
6. Russian government announced plans to impose value-added tax on foreign online shops. The bill should be submitted to State Duma by spring 2017. Today, 90% purchases of Russian internet users take place on AliExpress, Alibaba, Amazon, eBay, Asos, and other international shopping platforms. According to experts, transborder trade made up 35% in the volume of internet trade in Russia.
DR comments: Recognizing the increasing volume of online transactions, the government is seeking to solve two issues with this move. First, it aims to even out the playing field for similar Russian-based services (such as Russian Post, a national postal services operator whose recent foray into online shopping reported significant gains). Second, the move is expected to generate additional revenue for the state without raising taxes.
7. Uzbekistan Airlines began selling tickets online. However, the service is available only to UzCard bank card holders and in national currency, which means that Uzbek citizens can only purchase tickets for domestic flights.
8. Citizen of Tajikistan, Fotekh Kholinov, was sentenced to two year imprisonment by the court of Vladimir Oblast in Russia where he had resided since 2012. He was accused of propaganda of terrorism after he had posted a video calling for enrolment to ISIS and killing of infidels.
9. Starting from Jan. 1, 2017, the news aggregator Yandex.News will stop displaying information from media outlets not licensed by Russian state regulator Roskomnadzor. The decision resulted from the new bill that forces online news aggregators verify all information they show to public.
DR comments: Due to escalating ‘information warfare’ since the 2014 military intervention in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, the expressed intent of legislators behind the bill was to increase ‘made in Russia’ content and enhance media responsibility over produced content. In reality, over 25 million of Yandex.News subscribers will now receive pushed news from a much narrower pool of sources.