This week, Russia and Moldova introduce measures against “suicide groups” on social media; Uzbekistan to overcome a shortage of IT staff; The amendments to the Code on TV and Radio in Moldova; Kyrgyzstan improves the mobile services; Gadget users to verify personal data in Russia; Belarus to create a new public security monitoring system; The online retail law to be adopted in Russia.

1. A bill that toughens penalties for inducing suicide has been introduced to the State Duma of the Russian Federation. This bill is a reaction to numerous reports about “death groups” in social media, whose goal is to bring teenagers to suicide. The bill recommends amendments to the Criminal Code and in particular, a new article “Inducement to commit suicide or assistance in committing suicide” as the first step in combatting the suicide propaganda on the web.

Similar measures are going to be introduced in Moldova. The parliamentary commission will discuss the potential actions against the “death groups” and would develop changes to the regulation of the social media.

DR comments: Since 2016 there were multiple reports about teenagers’ suicide in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and Moldova. Some experts point to the clear correlation between the growing number of suicide events and the propaganda of this phenomena in social media. However, others say that the main reason is not social media, but rather an Internet trolling of teens because of their appearance, behavior, sexual orientation, etc.

2. A new ICT center will be created at the Tashkent University of Information Technologies. The creation of the second innovation center in Uzbekistan follows the presidential decree of March 15, 2017 “On measures to further improve the activities of the Tashkent University of Information Technologies.” The main goal of the law is to stimulate the local software development market in conditions of a shortage of qualified IT staff.

3. The amendments to the Code on Television and Radio were adopted by the parliament this week. The Moldovan TV channels are obliged to produce their own content and to broadcast it for at least 30% of the broadcasting time. At least four hours of the broadcast must be in Romanian.

4. The parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic adopted amendments to the law “On Electronic and Postal Communications” in the third reading. Mobile subscribers will have the opportunity to keep their cell number when changing the mobile operator. The law will come into effect on April 1, 2018.

5. The Ministry of Communications has prepared a draft amendment to the rules for the telecommunications services providers within the framework of the “Yarovaya Law” implementation. The draft contains the proposal to require subscribers to list all possible users of gadgets and devices and to verify their personal data.

DR comments: These amendments follow the previous steps of the Russian Government to increase the state control over the Internet that we announced in the previous issues of the Digest.

6. The Russian Association of Internet Trade Companies has developed and submitted for approval to the Ministry of Industry and Trade “the Strategy for the Electronic Commerce Development for 2017-2018 and until 2025”. The document suggests the adoption of the law on online retail, which will regulate the activity of online trading platforms and aggregators, and create a non-bank payment system for B2B.

7. Minister of Internal Affairs, Igor Shunevich, announced the creation of the unified system for public security monitoring in Belarus. The system will include cameras and special detectors throughout the country and will facilitate the rapid response of law enforcement agencies to various incidents, and in that way, increase the public security.

DR comments: Multiple public protests against the Belarusian government took place in March. Media reported about dozens of protesters arrested by the police.