This week:

  1. Russia to introduce the Action Plan for “Digital Economy”;
  2. Kyrgyzstan adopts new ICT legislation;
  3. Russian state services continue with digitization efforts;
  4. The E-Parliament is discussed in Uzbekistan
  5. Dealing with forbidden content in Eurasia;
  6. Uzbekistan to create a new payment system;
  7. Georgia to regulate the use of drones.

1. Implementing the Russian “Digital Economy”.

The Russian Government will shortly present a-three-year Action Plan for the “Digital Economy” program outlining program stages, officials responsible for their implementation and sources of funding.

Arkady Dvorkovich, Deputy Prime Minister, suggested that funding for the implementation of the program can be allocated from a special fund in addition to direct funding from the state budget. The Government plans to re-allocate up to 100 billion rubles a year (about USD $1.75B) previously earmarked for informatization of state authorities. The fees levied from telecom operators for radio frequencies will constitute another source of funding.

It is expected that the funding issue will soon be discussed at a meeting of the Council for Strategic Development and Priority Projects.

DR comments: Meanwhile, Andrei Belousov, Assistant to President Putin, and former Minister for Economic Development, listed 4 problems with implementation of the “Digital Economy”: lack of required legislation, lack of required infrastructure, absence of an outlined set of competencies and technologies for dealing with Big Data, and the insufficient number of trained specialists.

2. Two Important ICT Laws Have Been Adopted in Kyrgyzstan.

On June 6, 2017, the Kyrgyz Parliamentary Committee on Transport, Communications, Architecture, and Construction approved in the second reading laws on Electronic Digital Signature (EDS) and E-governance.

The new laws adapt the current legal system to modern realities. Thus, the Law “On E-Governance” replaces the old law “On Informatization and Electronic Governance”, and becomes the basis for government’s information systems management and inter-departmental exchange of data and information.

The Law “On E-Signature” adds to the existing law “On an electronic document and electronic digital signature” by improving the regulation of EDS use and harmonizing the country’s legislation with the legal norms of Eurasian Economic Union. In addition, the new law establishes EDS certifying centers with the authority to issue qualification certificates.

3. Digitization of Russian State Services is on the Rise.

Eleven state agencies collaborated on a bill “On Telemedicine”. The bill consists of three main provisions: the creation of a unified state health information system for all regional medical facilities, the introduction of telemedicine services for the remote interaction between doctors and patients, and the creation of a communications network for all Russian medics. The first reading of the bill is expected during the current session of State Duma.

Meanwhile, Rospatent is developing a 3D register to protect intellectual property and stimulate patent activity. The agency outlines three main directions for development: technology transfer, commercialization of patented products and training of personnel.

Also, the Ministry of Communications will spend USD $2M to create an online register of telecommunications operators. A new register will contain data on operators of telephone, telegraph, payphone, mobile and satellite communications, cable television and radio broadcasting, as well as the Internet and online service providers, including an interactive map of coverage each operator provides.

DR comments: According to our sources, the above initiatives form part of the final version of the “Digital Economy” program.

4. Uzbekistan is Developing E-Governance.

Dmitry Kurbatov, a member of a working group established to develop the E-Parliament project, stated that integration of the Parliament’s existing IT systems will improve transparency of governmental work. The government expects that more information about the activities of Parliament would expand its dialogue with the local society, including greater participation in political decisions.

At the same time, Uzbekistan has developed an online tool that monitors compliance with labor legislation requirements. It allows both employers and employees to check whether a recruitment procedure, an employment contract, payment terms or other aspects are consistent with the labor legislation.

5. How Do Eurasian States Combat Forbidden Content?

The three most commonly forbidden types of online content across Eurasia are extremist content, pirated content, and pornography. So, how do different states deal with these types of content? For instance, the Kazakh Ministry of Information and Communications reported that since the beginning of 2017 the regulator blocked access to more than 200 thousand materials. About 30,000 websites are blocked annually with most of them being porn sites or those that contain calls for violence, extremism, and terrorism.

In Tajikistan, opinions about the share of extremist content online really differ. Jurahon Majidzoda, a Tajik MP, stated that it reaches 80% of the TajNet, pointing that ISIS uses modern technologies to conduct propaganda and attract new recruits through social media and SMS. As a result, many social media platforms get indiscriminately blocked often without a court order. At the same time, experts state that the share of extremist content is not higher than 5%.

Taking into account the volume of suspected terrorist online activity, Azerbaijan was blocking the popular messengers WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber, and Skype during the 2017 Islamic Games in Baku. The government claims that this step helped with preventing the communications between terrorist groups who might have planned some actions in Baku. However, if regular users could use VPN services, then terrorists could have done it as well.

In Russia, content blocking is considered as the most effective tool for combating pirated content. Judging that sales of legally distributed content went up by 20%, since the development of anti-pirated regulations, one can see why this may be true.

DR comments: Some of the frequent issues encountered when combatting forbidden or extremist content online are the lack of standards for identifying such content, non-sanctioned actions by law enforcement bodies and mechanisms for effective blocking. Contact us to know more on these and other information security issues in Eurasia.

6. GlobUzCard – A New Uzbek Payment System.

The Uzbek Government announced the launch of GlobUzCard – a new national payment system for ForEx operations. The GlobUzCard will interact with such international payment systems as Visa, MasterCard, Union Pay International, JCB, American Express, and Diners Club. It will facilitate transactions in foreign currency abroad and accept cards of foreign banks in Uzbekistan.

DR comments: Experts we interviewed point out that with no free currency conversion, a cash deficit and state regulation of tariffs it is unclear how the new system will operate.

7. Georgia Will Regulate the Exploitation of Drones.

The Civil Aviation Agency of Georgia with the assistance of the European Aviation Security Agency developed a regulation on the use of drones. The new regulation requires all drones to be registered. It prohibits the use of drones in densely populated areas and places of congestion, such as city streets or parks. The maximum allowed height for operating a drone is 400 feet (122 m). The use of drones will be forbidden within a radius of 5.5 km from airports and 50 m from buildings.

The new rules will come into force on September 1, 2017. The registration of drones will begin on November 1, 2017, and from January 2020 the agency will begin to certify drones.