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13.12.2008

Internet Association of Ukraine disturbed by heavy-handed measures supposedly against pornography

   

The Association held a press conference on 10 December, and has also posted a statement on its website, which stresses that it is in favour of civilized means of cooperation between Internet providers, state authorities and civic organizations in combating unlawfulness on the Internet.

“The Internet Association of Ukraine [IAU] is disturbed by the situation which has arisen recently in the area of interaction between state authorities and members of the Ukrainian Internet market with regard to clearing the Ukrainian segment of the Internet of pornography and other violations in the information sphere. This involves in particular the situation over the project infostore.org which has aroused considerable public attention. The project makes it possible for anybody to create a webpage free of charge. This is widespread world practice for analogous social networks. As of December 2008 around 1.5 million Internet pages of different users were placed on the infostore.org site, this generating around 20% of all Ukrainian Internet traffic.

On 4 December this year Ministry of Internal Affairs officers removed around 20 servers which contained the programme code of infostore.org and the relative pages of network users.  This was on the basis of a search warrant of publications due to the need to carry out investigations as to whether the resource contains material of a pornographic nature.”

IAU stresses that the business providing services for the network could not control the content of information which is placed automatically through the use of special software.

It points out the Ukrainian legislation does not establish the need for providers to monitor their networks to check for information infringements. According to Article 40 § 4 of the Law on Telecommunications, providers are not liable for the content of material passed via their networks.  Liability lay solely with the users who produced particular web pages, as the latter was warned by the licence agreement with infostore.org.

IAU expresses support for State bodies’ endeavours to fight the spread of pornography and other infringements, but stresses that any actions in identifying and blocking such infringements must be in accordance with the law and commonsense. This was not the case with infostore.org where the focus became shifted from identifying those who placed unlawful information on the Internet to those who provided the software and technical means to do so. It believes that the providers are in fact the ones who should be recognized as the aggrieved party. It says that the vast majority of providers have no interest in anything illegal, and stresses that the state, as represented by the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the case of infostore.org should see the biggest Internet companies and figures as partners in fighting infringements, not as suspects.

IAU calls on the Minister of Internal Affairs Yury Lutsenko to assist in ensuring an unbiased investigation into this situation, find those guilty of breaking the law on Telecommunications and reinstate the resource infostore.org.

At the same time, the Association suggests a range of measures for clearing the Ukrainian segment of the Internet of pornography and other infringements. It suggests creating an organization of public control over morality in the Internet, measures to inform Internet users about the requirements of current legislation, drawing up an Internet ethical code and taking part in preparing for Safe Internet Day. It is initiating a roundtable on 17 December to discuss ways of consolidating the public and state bodies on overcoming negative features in the Internet. 

Based on the statement at http://inau.org.ua/173.1852.0.0.1.0.phtml

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