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07.06.2006

The Internet Association of Ukraine speaks out against recent calls to monitor the Internet

   

The Internet Association of Ukraine is disturbed over statements made by state bodies about increasing control and regulation of the Internet.

Statements from state officials have of late become more and more frequent about the alleged need for state bodies to increase regulation of the Ukrainian segment of the Internet, to establish total control over the segment in the interests of state security,  to license activity on the Internet, to register Internet resources, as well as to develop criteria by which the state bodies will determine what can be published on the Internet, and what may not.

The Internet Association of Ukraine must  yet again state that, using the pretext of protecting state interests, there is a wish to impose upon Ukraine total monitoring, censorship and control over all forms of information on the Internet.

The Constitution of Ukraine guarantees citizens their rights and freedoms regardless of what kinds of technology are used to exercise these rights and freedoms: the right to freedom of opinion and speech; the right to freely express ones views and convictions, to gather, use and disseminate information (Article 34), the right to privacy (Article 31), the right to freedom of literary, artistic, scientific and technical creativity, (Article 54), the right to own and use property, including intellectual property (Article 41), to business activities (Article 42), to education (Article 53). The Internet has become precisely that sphere in which these rights and freedoms can be most fully and directly exercised.  For this reason international law establishes even more efficient guarantees of free use of the Internet by members of the public. The Declaration of the Council of Europe on freedom of communications on the Internet, in particular, stipulates that limitations on content in the Internet which are stricter than those for other media sources would be inadmissible.  It also prohibits the limitation of access to Internet resources, except where in accordance with the law, as well as restrictions on creating websites, and states that there should be no creation of permission restrictions to the Internet for providers.

The Internet Association of Ukraine considers that claims that control over the Internet is required are highly forced  since at the present time, in accordance with Order No. 122 of the State Committee for Communications, monitoring equipment has already been installed on providers of services to state bodies. As far as non-governmental organizations are concerned, according to the law, they are entitled to independently, without the interference of state bodies, choose means of protecting their information.

It should be noted that the principles of legal interception of telecommunications have still not been defined by legislation, since the draft Law “On interception of telecommunications, which defines the relevant procedures was not adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. And this in turn presents the opportunity for abuse by parties who will have access to all forms of information, including those which constitute commercial secrets.

As far as licensing activities on the Internet is concerned, this “innovation” would not only contravene Ukrainian legislation, but would have the capacity to radically change the situation with competition, lead to a worsening of the investment climate, and as a result seriously stall the development of the field. For users this would result in a rise in cost and reduction in the accessibility of services.

The imposition of censorship on the Internet runs counter to the Constitution of Ukraine and to the course towards developing and strengthening democracy declared by the state. This move towards the behaviour of regimes of dictatorship and violence could do irreparable damage to Ukraine’s image in the world, and lead to a serious internal political crisis.

In the modern world there are indeed a whole range of threats to national security for any country. However one must seek resolution of this problem in a balanced fashion, not allowing an encroachment of the constitutional rights and liberties of citizens, and with concern for national peace and harmony, and with due thought for the image of our young democratic state.

The Internet Association of Ukraine has consistently spoken out, and will continue in future to speak out against any efforts to establish state control over the Internet or to introduce any forms of censorship and restriction on lawful business activities. The Internet Association of Ukraine calls on the community of Internet users, business circles, all political forces and the public to prevent such encroachments upon the constitutional rights and liberties of citizens, to remain true to the principles of democracy and to join in building an information society in Ukraine.

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