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SEEsummary April 2019


Issue no. 27 of the SEEsummary, , published on 5 May 2019, by SEEDIG, in collaboration with DiploFoundation and the Geneva Internet Platform. This issue covers Internet governance and digital policy developments that occurred in South Eastern Europe and the neighbouring area in April 2019. Also included: a list of upcoming events (May 2019), a look at Internet Governance Forum initiatives which had meetings recently, and an overview of upcoming capacity development opportunities for SEE+ stakeholders. Contributors to this issue: Maja Ćalović, Andrijana Gavrilović, Luminița Iordache, Olga Kyryliuk, Marko Paloski, Efthymia Papadopoulou, Dušan Stojičević, Oliana Sula. Design by Charalampos Kyritsis.


Developments in April 2019

Telecommunications infrastructure | Convergence | Internet of things | Cybersecurity | Child safety online | Digital signatures | Capacity development | Privacy and data protection |  Content policy


Telecommunications infrastructure


North Macedonia adopts the National Operational Broadband Plan (NOBP)

The government of North Macedonia adopted the National Operational Broadband Plan (NOBP). The plan sets out several goals the government plans to accomplish in the next 10 years. These include, among others, covering at least one large city with an uninterrupted 5G signal by the end of 2021, all highways by the end of 2025, and all urban environments by 2027; enabling access to the Internet through 5G to all subscribers by 2029; and enabling access to 1Gbps Internet to all public institutions by 2029.

Western Balkans economies agree to abolish roaming charges

The six Western Balkan economies – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbiaagreed to lower and ultimately abolish roaming costs for mobile telephony and Internet users by 2021, in order to harmonise with the regional telecoms market. By the beginning of July 2019, mobile calls will cost 19 euro cents per minute, a SMS will cost 6 euro cents and one megabyte of Internet will be 2.5 euro cents. Until now, the costs for such services were much higher, rising to 2.5 EUR per minute for calls in the region.

Bosnia and Herzegovina allocates 4G licenses

The Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina has issued licences for the provision of 4G services to the country’s three telecom operators – BH Telecom, Telekom Srpske, and HT Eronet. The permits have been granted for a period of 15 years, and licence holders are obliged to start commercial service rollout within one month. The plan is to have 60% of inhabited territory covered within 12 months, with 90% of territory covered in the next five years. In addition to allowing coverage of rural areas, speeds of 100 Mbps or more will be available to a greater share of the population, helping reduce the digital divide.




Slovenia to set up international AI research centre with UNESCO

The Department of Intelligent Systems at the Jožef Stefan Institute (JSI) will be transformed into Europe’s first international artificial intelligence (AI) research centre with the backing from Slovenian government and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The centre will conduct research on AI, offer policy support in drawing up guidelines and action plans for introducing AI technology in various fields to stakeholders, and run public consultations with the wider public on the impact of AI. The official decision on the establishment of the centre will be made at the UNESCO general conference in Paris in November 2019.


Internet of things


Serbia and Huawei sign MoU on smart cities development

Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications, Rasim Ljajić signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Huawei on a ‘smart cities’ project. Huawei became Serbia’s strategic partner in developing the strategy for smart cities in Belgrade, Niš, Novi Sad and other municipalities. The project will introduce services such as smart public lighting systems, garbage collection, traffic signage management, and public parking management.




Russian ‘Sovereign Internet’ Bill awaits president’s signature

The Russian Federation Council has approved amendments to the laws ‘On Communications’ and ‘On Information, Information Technologies and Protection of Information’ with regard to ensuring safe and sustainable functioning of the Internet in Russia (Runet), the so called ‘Sovereign Internet’ Bill. The draft law should enable Russia to ensure stable Runet in case it is disconnected from the global infrastructure of the World Wide Web (WWW). The law also envisions an obligation of the Internet providers to install technical equipment for countering threats to sustainability, safety and integrity of Runet; as well as the creation of the Centre for network monitoring and management under Roskomnadzor. There is also a requirement for the ‘development of a national system for receipt of information about domain names or network addresses’. If signed, the bill will enter into force on 1 November 2019, while the provisions on cryptographic protection of information and national domain system will enter into force on 1 January 2021. International human rights organisations called on Russia to drop the bill, arguing that it could lead to restricting freedoms.


Child safety online


IT Caravan 04 officially launched in Serbia

IT Caravan 04, the fourth edition of Serbia’s campaign to educate children and youth to use digital technologies safely, has been officially launched. The programme will gather together around 2000 students from 25 schools primary schools under the slogan ‘The face of the Internet.’ Students will compete in knowledge of digital technology and safe Internet use.


Digital signatures


Montenegro and Serbia sign agreement on qualified trust services

The governments of Montenegro and Serbia have signed an agreement on mutual recognition of qualified trust services. Qualified electronic signatures will be recognised in both countries, enabling cross-border e-commerce and online services. State Secretary at the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications of the Republic of Serbia, Tatjana Matić, announced plans to sign such an agreement with North Macedonia as well.

Belarus mobile operators jointly launching Mobile Connect service

Mobile operators MTS, Life, velcom | A1 and the GSM Association (GSMA) of mobile operators have signed an agreement to launch the interoperators’ simplified authorisation service Mobile Connect in Belarus. The service enables identification and authorisation on websites and in applications with mobile number just in one click. It ensures security of operations and protects personal data, while mobile numbers of users are transferred only upon their consent. Authorisation will be possible from any electronic device. Mobile Connect is expected to substitute current identification methods based on filling in login and password details, or authorisation with social networks. Potentially, Mobile Connect can be applied in e-commerce, travel industry (booking e-tickets, registration in loyalty programs), banking and payment systems, and state e-services.


Capacity development


Digital skills for Bulgarian children, through the Cyberscout Programme

The Bulgarian Safer Internet Centre and the telecommunications company Telenor have completed the 5th edition of the Cyberscout Training Program, held January-March 2019. During 12 two-day sessions, the programme has trained 295 children from 10 localities throughout the country. During the trainings and through interactive exercises the new cyber scouts received knowledge about main network risks, problems that could occur when using the Internet as a source of information, and methods for prevention and reaction. The certified cyber scouts were organised in cyberscout squads and are expected to serve as an example for responsible behavior both online and offline, as well as share obtained knowledge on online safety among their peers and with their parents.

The Western Balkans’ Fragmented Media Literacy Attempts

Research conducted by members of the South East European Network for Professionalization of Media (SEENPM) found that economies in the Western Balkans region lack comprehensive policies and institutional framework for developing media and information literacy (MIL) in a systematic way and at scale. MIL is not explicitly or continuously included as a goal in policy documents, public policies or legislation, and is being left on the margins, for civil society, public sector enthusiasts, and international organisations. While good practices and attempts to translate an idea into concrete public policy can be found in each country, fragmented attempts – mostly by individual activists and civil society organisations – have yet to be turned into a coherent public policy with clear objectives, stakeholders and performance indicators. The regional research, intended for mapping and better understanding of the situation and development of media and information literacy in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, was conducted in 2018 by researchers from SEENPM member organisations, the Albanian Media Institute, the Mediacentar Sarajevo, the Macedonian Institute for Media, the Montenegro Media Institute and the Novi Sad School of Journalism, under regional coordination of the Peace Institute in Ljubljana.


Privacy and data protection


Russia fines Facebook and Twitter for non-compliance with data localisation law

On 5 April, Twitter has been fined 3000 Russian rubles (USD$46) for refusing to disclose the location of servers that store the personal data of Russian citizens as requested by Russian government. The fine is the lowest possible for such an offence. A week later, on 12 April, Facebook was fined 3,000 rubles (USD$47) for failing to disclose where it stores Russian user data. According to Russian laws, social media companies are obliged to store user data on servers located in Russia.







Russian IGF | 08 April 2019 | Moscow, Russia

The Russian Internet Governance Forum 2019 (RIGF) and Russian national top-level domain (TLD) .RU celebrated their 10th and 25th anniversary respectively. The RIGF was marked by an extensive discussion of national domains, their place in the ecosystem of the modern Internet, and the future of global Internet governance. The programme included sections on information security, digital economy development, international co-operation and technology innovations. Enhancing multistakeholder co-operation was among the most discussed topics. The forum was organised by the Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ with the support of the Ministry of Communications and Mass Media.




Fellowships, scholarships, events and other engagement opportunities for SEE+ stakeholders




Open call for applications: Digital Grassroots Ambassador Programme 2019 | Deadline: 10 May

Young people between the ages of 14 and 29 who are interested in using the Internet as a tool for social good and are passionate about sharing information, are invited to apply for the Digital Grassroots Ambassador Programme. Successful Ambassadors will receive a certificate upon completing the programme, an opportunity to share success stories and write articles related to the Internet, an exclusive mentorship programme on how to engage as a youth in Internet governance, and an opportunity to join the core team in a given capacity.


Upcoming events


May 2019


Cybersecurity Training Organized by SANS Institute  | 6-11 May 2019 | Bucharest, Romania

SEEDIG 5 | 7-8 May 2019 | Bucharest, Romania

Reflect Festival 2019 | 9-10 May 2019 | Limassol, Cyprus               

Second International Forum ICT-society | 10 May 2019 | Osijek, Croatia

Webit.Festival Europe 2019 | 13-15 May 2019 | Sofia, Bulgaria

SINOG 6.0 | 14 May 2019 | Ljubljana, Slovenia

Microsoft Summit Greece | 14 May 2019 | Athens, Greece

NoNameCon | 14-17 May 2019 | Kyiv, Ukraine

ITU Workshop for Europe and CIS regions “ICT Infrastructure as a Basis for Digital Economy | 14-16 May 2019 | Kyiv, Ukraine

Coding Serbia Conference | 15-17 May 2019 | Novi Sad, Serbia

Fintex Summit: Finance and Technology Summit | 16-17 May 2019 | Baku, Azerbaijan

ITU Forum ‘Internet of Things: future applications and services. Perspective 2030’ and 4th ITU Workshop on Network 2030 | 21-23 May 2019 | St.Petersburg, Russia

ITU Cyber Drill for Europe Region | 27-31 May 2019 | Bucharest, Romania


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Editorial note

The SEEsummary is produced on a best effort basis, by our team of volunteer editors. Each month, the editors scan local and regional media, as well as websites of public institutions and other organisations, and compile what they find to be some of the most significant digital policy developments.

The SEEsummary does not claim to be a comprehensive source of information. Despite our efforts, we may miss some things happening across the region. To help us cover as many significant developments as possible, we invite you to share with us news from your countries.

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