This week, Russian experts announced plans to toughen penalties for cybercrimes; Georgian companies got fined for using illegal software; Ukrainian government partnered with international donors to fight corruption through e-governance reform; Freedom House published its annual Freedom on the Net index: Armenia mapped out a new strategy for innovative economy development until 2018. 

1. Russian experts work on amendments to the Criminal code that toughen penalties for cybercrimes. The draft bill is scheduled for an open discussion in the first half of 2017. The experts believe that the existing legislation is outdated and doesn’t meet latest technological developments. The opponents say that the problem lies not in the laws, which aren’t bad, but in methodology for investigation of cybercrimes and capacity of law enforcement to probe them. The clearance rate of cybercrimes in Russia remains quite low.

2. Seven Georgian companies were fined $100 thousand for using illegal Microsoft software. They will also have to pay for installation of legal software.

3. Ukrainian President Poroshenko has vetoed bill No. 3081-d on state support of cinematography in Ukraine, which also covers copyright piracy, including online piracy. While in support of the bill overall, he returned it to Parliament asking to further improve the mechanism of state subsidizing the film industry in line with budget and tax legislations.

4. The Government of Ukraine partnered with USAID, Eurasia Foundation, and the UK government to fight corruption through e-governance reform. The program will establish electronic procurement as the standard approach for public procurement within Ukraine and institute an Open Data program to ensure that all 18 central ministries and at least 35 municipalities with populations more than 100 thousand people publish data on a regular basis. The program will also provide regulatory and policy support and technical assistance to the government through the introduction of e-services.

5. Freedom House published its annual Freedom on the Net index. Overall, around the world internet freedom continued to decline, with more governments than ever before targeting social media and communication apps. The list of 65 countries included former Soviet states too, Among them, Georgia and Armenia ranked the highest. Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan marked as partly free. Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Uzbekistan ranked as countries where internet freedom is restricted through blocking access, censoring certain content, and arresting bloggers and internet users.

6. Armenia takes the course towards innovative economy through improvement of business processes and online education technologies. On November 18-19, public officials, IT professionals and decision makers gathered at Business Innovations Forum in Dilijan to map out a new strategy for innovative economy development until 2018.