This week,

  1. The law on critical infrastructure for Russia;
  2. Ukraine develops a law to block websites;
  3. News on Digital CASA in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan;
  4. Kaspersky Lab was banned by the US government;
  5. Ukraine to introduce the biometric border control system;
  6. The EU to cancel roaming for the Eastern Partnership countries;
  7. Russia develops a new regulation on personal data;
  8. Yandex and Uber combine their online taxi businesses in Eurasia.

1. Is Russia Improving the National Information Security?

On July 7, the law on critical information infrastructure has passed the second reading in the State Duma. The document determines the basic principles of the infrastructure security, powers of state agencies, as well as the rights, duties, and responsibilities of persons owning the objects of critical information infrastructure. The document is in full accordance with the new Russian Information Security Doctrine, adopted in 2016.

The owners of critical infrastructure installations will be required to inform the authorities about any cyber-incidents, prevent the unauthorized access, and be responsible to backup all data and restore the normal functioning after an incident.

Meanwhile, the government opposes delaying the entry into force of the “Yarovaya Law”. Last week we informed that the authorities considered the possibility to postpone the law to 2023. However, at least for now, the date for changes remains July 1, 2018. According to the Vice Premier-Minister Dvorkovich, the only thing missing in the law is the provision allowing a stage-by-stage introduction of its requirements to minimize the costs to operators.

DR Comments: It appears that the state and private sector failed to find a compromise: to postpone the law’s entry into force in exchange for engaging the ICT business sector in the “Digital Economy” implementation. It looks that the state security remains a dominant priority for Russia, exactly as our 2016 legislation trends showed.

2. Cybersecurity or Censorship: Is Ukraine Adopting Its Own “Yarovaya Law”?

The Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada intends to legalize temporary blocking of websites without a court decision. A corresponding bill will be submitted for public discussion. The initiative aims to facilitate a rapid response to cyber threats, as the bill’s authors stated. The proposal contains a provision allowing the National Commission for Communications and Informatization to maintain a “Single Register of Judicial Decisions and Sanctions in the Sphere of Telecommunications”, i.e. a “black list” of websites.

Some of the MPs have already called the initiative an attempt to legitimize censorship, while the Internet Association of Ukraine (IAU) sent an open letter to Rada requesting to reject the bill. According to the IAU, this bill may radically expand the power of law enforcement and harm both the private sector required to purchase expensive equipment to comply with the law and freedom of speech.

DR Comments: It seems that many provisions of the bill copy the approach of the “Yarovaya Law” adopted in Russia. In that example, the authorities focused on achieving state security at the expense of societal freedoms and industry. The concern for Ukraine is that taking a similar approach may bring about similar results, which goes against its attempts to move closer to European standards.

3. A Snapshot of “Digital CASA” in Central Asia.

Digital CASA is a World Bank’s program aimed to create a regional cross-border broadband telecommunications network to improve Internet connectivity in Central Asia.

The World Bank will allocate USD $50 million to Tajikistan to strengthen its critical infrastructure and improve the early warning systems,  allowing to take proactive measures. Part of the funding will be used for the modernization of crisis management systems under the Committee for Emergency Situations and Civil Defense.

Meanwhile, Kyrgyzstan announced that the laying of the fiber-optic cable lines will be performed by various contractors chosen on a competitive basis. The site for Data Centre construction, also a part of the Digital CASA Kyrgyzstan, will be announced later. The government will invest USD $10 million in the Data Centre called Eurasia-cloud, from the USD $20 million the World Bank had allocated to implement the project. Digital CASA is also a part of the Kyrgyz Taza Koom program, aimed at the digitization of Kyrgyz economy and development of the national e-government.

4. Kaspersky Lab Vs the US Government.

Kaspersky Lab has been removed from the U.S. General Services Administration’s list of IT vendors for the US government. The president Trump’s administration prohibited state institutions from purchasing information security software developed by the Russian company. Kaspersky Lab is suspected of cooperation with the Russian FSB, which in turn is suspected in cyber-attacks against the USA during the 2016 election campaign. Both Kaspersky Lab and Russia deny all accusations.

DR Comments: Earlier we announced that Kaspersky Lab’s software could be banned in the US Army for the same reasons.

5. Ukraine: The Biometric Border Control System Is Coming.

During the meeting with the National Security and Defense Council, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced the introduction of a biometric border control system. It is assumed that biometrics will help increase the effectiveness of the counter-terrorism measures. The president emphasized that all required regulation has been prepared. The cost of the system implementation, sources of funding, and timing of the project were not announced.

6. No Roaming Between the EU and EaP: Telecoms Oppose the Initiative.

The European Union will cancel the roaming charges for six members of the Eastern Partnership (EaP), allowing residents of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine to use their phones in the EU without roaming. The roaming cancellation is expected to be completed by 2020.

While the users in the EaP hope to benefit from this move, the local Telecom operators oppose this initiative, as roaming revenues is an important part of Telecoms’ budgets.  

DR Comments: This initiative follows the roaming cancellation within the EU, launched on June 15, 2017. The EU representatives believe this step will increase the level of integration of the EaP states with the EU. We believe that the negotiations between the EU and national regulators must include the interest of telecoms. Otherwise, their revenue losses are likely to be compensated by the increase of tariff fares.

7. Two Bills on Personal Data Protection Are Being Prepared in Russia.

Russian Federal Service for Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-being (Rospotrebnadzor) intends to prohibit sellers from asking customers for additional personal information that is not required to complete the purchase. Rospotrebnadzor is preparing the respective amendments to the legislation.

At the same time, the Internet Initiatives Development Fund proposed a bill aimed at Big Personal Data protection. Foreign companies that collect data on Russian users would be required to disclose this information to the users. Translation of data abroad will also be impossible without the user’s consent.

8. Yandex Taxi and Uber Signed a Merger Agreement.

The two biggest online taxi service providers in the region announced their merging. The new company would have to coordinate the deal with the regulator in order to comply with the antimonopoly legislation. The controlling block, or 59.3% of the shares, will belong to Yandex, 36.6% to Uber, and 4.1% – to employees. The volume of investments into the new company is going to be about USD $325 million, of which USD $100 million will be invested by Yandex and USD $225 million by Uber. The total value of the new company is estimated at USD $3.725 billion. The merged company will operate in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Russia.

The agreement between Yandex and Uber affected another country of the region – Ukraine. The sanctions applied to Yandex in Ukraine influenced the decision to make Uber’s office in Kyiv as the main company’s office in the CIS. The Uber’s press service noted that Ukraine will be a part of the company’s “Central and Eastern Europe” division.