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22.05.2004

Wiretapping Sep.1999

   

On 27 June 1999 a. Presidential Edict No. 737/99 . On licensing of some kinds of entrepreneurial activities . was issued, which, for the protection of state interests in the sphere of communication, ruled that the activities concerning the services in transferring data in networks of common use may be carried out only after obtaining a license. One of the conditions for getting a license is that . the subject of this entrepreneurial activity shall provide special technical facilities for recording information passing through the communication channels. . Earlier, on 14 December 1998, the President issued the edict . On the measures directed at strengthening the control over the development, production and sale of technical facilities for the secret obtaining of information. . This edict prohibits the development, production and sale of special technical facilities (including the sale of those of foreign make) for intercepting information from communication channels and other facilities for secret obtaining of information. Such activities are permitted only after getting licenses given according to the procedure stated in Article 4 of the Ukrainian law . On entrepreneurial activities. . In the middle of January 1999 the Verkhovna Rada adopted an appendix to this law stating that such licenses can be given only by the USS.

Thus the USS wants to control the sale and production of the special facilities, while Edict No. 737/99 obliges all providers of the information networks, such as the Internet, cellular and mobile telephone networks, to buy the needed facilities. It is obvious that the USS prepares to implement a project similar to the Russian NI?I, which demands from each provider to supply the Federal Security Service (FSS) with the needed software and hardware, including a reserved communication channel, in order to enable the FSS to intercept any message of any customer of the provider. The USS, as well as their Russian counterparts, wants the providers to pay for this control from their own pockets. Yet, on 7 September the Verkhovna Rada rejected this Edict together with the draft of the law aimed to change Article 4 of the Law . On entrepreneurial activities. . The score of votes was quite convincing: 252 were against the change and 20 were for it. Thus the USS plans has not found legal support.

The political situation now made the oppositional leftish forces, such as communists, socialists and such, vote against this Edict, because they were afraid to give the executive power a new weapon against themselves, such as wiretapping, intercepting telephone conversations, fax communication, e-mail, etc.

One should mention here about the draft of the Law . On Information Sovereignty and Security of Ukraine. . It could have been treated as a curiosity if it had not been approved in all instances and had to be presented at the plenary meeting of the Verkhovna Rada for the final approval. The main idea of the draft, whether the authors wanted it or not, is to implement the complete state monopoly for information. For example, the provision of the information sovereignty demands . the legal definition and guarantees by the state of the strategic directions of development and protection of the national information space and integrated information politics. (Article 2), though it seems obvious that the main task of the state is to encourage the diversity of information and political attitudes, since decisions should be taken on the base of a wide public discussion. It seems that the state must tend to weakening its control in the information sphere, but the draft affirms the opposite: . the state is the guarantor of the entirety of the national information space on the basis of the integrated state policy determined by the laws binding to all participants of the information activities, regardless of the form of property, with the state owning all leading objects of the national information space and affecting the regulative influence on the social relations in the information sphere by using its property and economic levers. (Article 2). The draft is spanned with the idea of protecting the information security understood as . the ability to protect the most important interests of citizen and state, thus excluding the possibility of damage because of incomplete, untimely or uncertain information, because of negative consequences of the functioning of information technologies or as a consequence of distributing information, prohibited or limited to distribution by Ukrainian laws. (Article 3).. One can see that the state is again above a citizen, and the state dares to define which information is uncertain or distorted to be prohibited for distribution. The draft introduces the concept of . national information resources of exclusively state importance. (Article 10), to which the draft relates the resources that . may essentially influence the state of the national security of Ukraine& and its information sovereignty. . The draft recommends the state to redeem such resources if they appeared in private property, and the owners of such resources that are not redeemed yet has the duty . to guard and preserve such resources and use them only with the account of the rulings of the Ukrainian laws. . It is astounding that so many instances could approve this draft.

C. Access to Information and State Secrets

Access to the information on the activity of power bodies and other official information is becoming more and more limited because of the severe control over mass media, especially those of the opposition. So, out of 833 Presidential Edicts signed from January to July, 24 are not published. In the corresponding database these Edicts are represented by the number, the date when the Edict was signed and the remark . Not for print. . What do these edicts order, which decisions are taken on behalf of us, why must they not be published? On the other hand, according to Article 57 of the Constitution of Ukraine, any . normative and legal acts determining rights and duties of citizens and not made public in the legally stated procedure, are null and void. . One may only hope that the guarantor of the Constitution will not violate this article.

On 13 March, 1999, the President signed Edict No. 250/99 . On the changes in the system of central organs of the executive power in Ukraine. , according to #1-b of which, the State Committee on state secrets and technical protection of information must be liquidated, and its functions and rights are passed to the USS.

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