Developments in October
Issue no. 22 of the SEEsummary, published on 31 October 2018, by SEEDIG, in collaboration with DiploFoundation and the Geneva Internet Platform. This issue covers Internet governance and digital policy developments and events that occurred in South Eastern Europe and the neighbouring area in October 2018. Contributors to this issue: Adela Alexandru, Qanita Abedpour, Maja Ćalović, Andrijana Gavrilović, Su Sonia Herring, Olga Kyryliuk, Nika Mahnič, Dajana Mulaj, Marko Paloski, Efthymia Papadopoulou, Mirko Savković, Sorina Teleanu. Design by Charalampos Kyritsis.
Telecommunications infrastructure | Internet of things | Domain Name System | Copyright | Capacity development | E-commerce | Cybercrime | Access | Development – other | Content policy | Economic – other issues
5G pilot networks to be developed in a third Greek city
In Greece, the municipality of Zografos became the third in line to participate in a 5G network pilot project. Local authorities and the telecom and network provider OTE Group signed a memorandum of understanding on the installation of a 5G pilot network in the city. The pilot is part of a broader plan initiated and run by the country’s General Secretariat of Telecommunications and Post, in cooperation with local authorities and providers of electronic communications networks for the deployment of 5G networks across the country. Speaking about the initiative, the Secretary-General of Telecommunications and Posts, Mr Vassilis Maglaras, said that it ‘marks the very beginning of the implementation of a very important technological innovation in our country in the field of telecommunications, for the benefit of citizens and entrepreneurship. […] Our goal is to make this agreement the basis for developing a whole ecosystem around 5th generation networks with the active involvement of the academic community and innovative businesses.
LTE coverage expanded in Ukraine
In Ukraine, two network operators have announced the expansion of their Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks to cover more areas in the country. Lifecell expanded their 1800MHz LTE network in several new cities across three regions (Dnipropetrovska, Zaporizka and Kyivska), making high-speed fourth-generation mobile Internet now available to 2400 settlements across the country, with a total population of 22.18 million inhabitants. For Vodafone Ukraine, its 1.8 GHz 4G network now covers six additional regional centres – Vinnitsa, Cherkasy, Zhytomyr, Rivne, Ternopil and Khmelnytsky – as well as in the cities of Beregovo, Zakarpattya oblast and Dubno, Rivne Oblas. The company says its 4G networks now cover 24 regions of Ukraine, providing access to high-speed services to around 18 million citizens.
Albanian government concerned over the potential sale of Telekom Albania
The Albanian authorities are not supportive of the idea for Telekom Albania to be sold out to the state-run Telekom Serbia, which might happen due to Deutsche Telekom’s, indirect owner of Telekom Albania, plans to leave the country. According to Albania’s Prime Minister, Mr Edi Rama, ‘Serbian businesses are welcome […], but they are not preferred’ in a strategic sector like telecommunications. Four other companies have allegedly submitted bids also – the Turkish company Eagle Mobile, an anonymous Greek investor, PPF Group from the Czech Republic and Bulgaria’s Vivacom. Despite its strong position, the government cannot stop a deal between Telekom Albania and Telekom Serbia, if the two companies reach an agreement. Telekom Serbia’s interest in buying the second largest operator in Albania proves its intention to become a regional leader in the telecommunications sector.
RINArmenia launched in Yerevan
During the ‘La Francophonie Economic Forum’, held on 10 October 2018 in Yerevan, Armenia, the French scientist and Internet pioneer Louis Pouzin (also Executive Director of Open-Root organisation) announced the launch of RINArmenia project. The Recursive Internetwork Architecture (RINA), which claims to be ‘the Internet of the future’, proposes a new computer network architecture as an alternative to the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) model developed in the 1970s. According to its developers, RINA’s goal is to replace the Internet as we know it with a more secure and powerful one-layered system based on what is known as the ‘Inter-Process Communication’ model. A group of scientists and researchers will be formed in the coming 18 months in Armenia to work on RINA and then launch and test it in the country.
IoT lab to be set up in Baku in cooperation with Microsoft
The E-Government Education and Training Center of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of Azerbaijan has signed a three-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Microsoft on the establishment of the Internet of things (IoT) laboratory. The lab will be dedicated to improving the skills of young specialists in the field of innovation and is a part of a broader strategy focused on developing a knowledge-driven economy. The MoU covers issues such as the acquisition of software solutions, the development of new sectors and segments, the creation of e-services of innovative focus, as well as enhancing the accessibility of e-services to the public. Microsoft will also provide Azure and other solutions to students free of charge for the development of start-ups.
Changes in the .al domain name registration rules
The Electronic and Postal Communications Authority (AKEP) in Albania has adopted amendments to the regulation setting up the terms and conditions for the registration and administration of .al domain names. The changes cover aspects such as rights and obligations of domain name registrants, means for avoiding abusive practices regarding the number of domain names registered by an individual registrant, lists of reserved or forbidden domain names, and the collection and availability of information related to registered domain names. One of the amendments introduces the limitation of domain names that can be registered by a single registrant to 5 domain names for natural persons and 15 domain names for public or private entities. This new rule attracted criticism in the public media space, with claims that it ‘creates a context for censorship’. In reaction to this criticism, AKEP argued that the rules are in compliance with the country’s legal framework, and guarantee the protection of the legitimate interests of users. The authority still has the prerogative to approve the registration of a higher number of domain names by the same registrant, on a case-by-case basis, at the motivated request of the registrant.
Spotify signs contract with the Croatian Composers’ Society
The Service of Copyright Musical Rights of the Croatian Composers’ Society signed a contract with the global music streaming service, Spotify, to regulate the licensing of copyright for Croatian authors on this service. Accordingly, Croatian authors will receive somewhat fairer compensations for the use of their musical work via Spotify on the pan-European territory. Although this can be seen as a first step towards the arrival of Spotify on the Croatian market, the exact date of the service’s availability in Croatia is still to be decided, depending on the other technical details.
Vodafone Romania Foundation launches ‘School in a suitcase’ programme
In Romania, the Vodafone Foundation has announced the launch of a ‘School in a suitcase’ national programme focused on integrating digital technologies into the educational process. The programme, implemented in partnership with the World Vision Foundation Romania, involves the use of a series of technical tools (which can fit a suitcase) that allow the setting-up, in just a few minutes, of a digital classroom: a laptop for the teacher, 25 tables for the students, a projector, an audio system, a wi-fi router, a 4G modem, and an incorporated charging solution. The teaching process is also adapted for the programme through the use of modern digital materials which are integrated into a dedicated e-learning platform. The programme is to be implemented during the 2018–2019 school year, in ten schools located in underserved rural communities across 10 counties in Romania. The total number of students to benefit from the initiative is estimated to 5 000, and the programme has a total value of EUR 420 000.
Tool launched to assess the use of technology in the educational process
The European Commission launched a tool dedicated to supporting digital teaching and learning in schools in the EU, Georgia, Russia and Serbia. Called SELFIE (Self-reflection on Effective Learning by Fostering the use of Innovative Educational Technologies), the tool is available in 24 languages (more languages to follow) and will be available to 76.7 million students and teachers in 250 000 schools. Schools can sign up voluntarily to use the tool, which will allow them to assess whether and how technologies are used as part of the teaching and learning processes. The results of the assessments are presented in a report which can be used by the schools as a basis for improving their use of digital technologies in the educational processes.
E-commerce transactions increase in value
Data presented at an e-commerce conference held on 26 October 2018 in Skopje, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, showed that, during the first half of the year, Macedonians spent EUR 63 million on online shopping, an increase of 20% compared to the same period of 2017. Out of this amount, 41 million euro represented transactions involving foreign e-commerce platforms and merchants, and only 22 million euro represented domestic e-commerce transactions. Speaking at the event, the Minister of Information Society and Administration, Mr Damjan Mancevski, noted that actions are taken to raise awareness about the benefits of e-commerce among end-users and to ensure that electronic transactions are secure. The minister pointed out that the issues of trust and security, including in the context of e-commerce, are tackled in the country’s strategy and action plan for cybersecurity, which are under preparation.
Space Hellas to implement the e-Crime project for the Cyprus Police
Space Hellas, a system integrator and value-added solutions provider, has been awarded the implementation of the e-Crime project for the Cyprus Police, being tasked with providing the software, hardware and technical support services, installation and users training. The offered software is the Web Intelligence platform Voyager by Web-IQ. The project aims to implement the necessary infrastructure at the Cybercrime Division of the Cyprus Police for the prevention of Internet crimes targeted at physical and legal entities. The strategic partnership between Space Hellas and Web-IQ has been the result of the successful implementation of the e-Crime project in Greece.
Website accessibility in Croatia still not regulated
When it comes to the digitalisation of the public sector, Croatia still has issues it needs to work on. As noted by Bernard Gršić from the Central State Office for the Development of Digital Society, Croatia still does not have legal framework adapted to the European one when it comes to the accessibility of web content to blind or visually impaired persons. He stressed that Croatia slightly improved its position on the European Commission’s Digital Economy and Society Index, and is now 22nd among 28 member states. Nevertheless, the critical objective is to include all socially vulnerable groups, which is to be achieved by adopting the Law on the Accessibility of Websites of Public Sector Bodies, drawn from the EU directive adopted in 2016. According to Gršić, the law should come into force on 23 September 2019, although it was previously expected that the implementation date would be by the end of this year.
Montenegro works to implement the Digital Agenda for Western Balkans
The Prime Minister of Montenegro, Mr Duško Marković, recently met in Podgorica with the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Ms Mariya Gabriel. They talked about the implementation of the Digital Agenda for the Western Balkans, which aims to support the transition of the region into a sustainable digital economy. Marković underlined the fact that Montenegro is taking action to achieve the objectives set in the Digital Agenda, and that ‘significant progress has been made’ to encourage and support innovation, the development of e-government, the expansion of broadband Internet access, and the digitalisation of business processes. Cybersecurity is also a focus area for Montenegro’s digitalisation efforts and a field in which the country seeks to cooperate with member states of the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The Commissioner congratulated Montenegro for being one of the first countries that joined the Interoperability Programme ISA2, focused on interoperability solutions for public administrations, business and citizens.
Assessing the national interoperability framework
Eighteen months after the entry into force of the National Interoperability Framework, the Ministry of Information Society and Administration of The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia published several figures showcasing the implementation of the framework. According to the ministry, 32 public institutions are now connected to the interoperability platform, over 100 electronic services which allow data exchanges are in place, and over 10 million electronic transactions have been recorded between state institutions. The national framework, inspired by the European Interoperability Framework, has been put in place with the aim to enable standardised and reliable electronic data exchanges between the information systems of public entities in the country.
Digitalisation across the medical sector in Romania
In Romania, the government has reiterated the importance of promoting digitalisation across all sectors of the economy and society, by initiating a call for projects focused on the digitalisation of the medical sector. The programme, launched by the Ministry of Communications and Information Society and the Ministry of European Funds, offers a total amount of EUR 30 million for projects focused on the use of digital technologies for improving the relations between patients and health service providers. Eligible projects could cover issues such as the digitalisation of information related to medical leave, the electronic health record, telemedicine, and the creation, updating and consolidation of electronic health records processes. Successful projects have to be implemented within a three year period after the signing of the funding contract.
Belarus and Israel launched a joint call for sci-tech projects
The State Committee on Science and Technology of Belarus and the Ministry of Science and Technology of Israel announced a contest for joint scientific and technical projects for 2019-2020. The deadline for applications is 17 January 2019. Among the priority areas of the bilateral Belarusian-Israeli cooperation are digital agriculture (through the use of big data, machine learning, artificial intelligence and in-depth training related to agriculture) and social sciences (methodologies and models for the formation of a national science policy). Applications should contain written commitments on the practical use of research results. The contest is held in accordance with a memorandum on scientific cooperation signed by respective governmental agencies in May 2018.
Potential closure of online portals in Albania raises OSCE concerns
On 15 October, the Electronic and Postal Communications Authority (AKEP) in Albania published an announcement requiring 44 media websites to register with the National Business Centre within 72 hours and publish their tax numbers online. Non-compliance with the deadline would have lead to the websites being closed down. The measure, reportedly intended to address concerns regarding defamation spread over online channels, drew the attention of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). In a press release, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of Media, Harlem Désir, expressed concerns over the fact that the mandatory registration of online media ‘could seriously restrict public access to diverse sources of information, the plurality of voices, and erode the right to freedom of expression and information online’. Désir asked Albanian authorities to reconsider the measure and examine possible alternatives to address the problem of defamation, in consultation with other stakeholders. AKEP later published an update noting that most of the concern media outlets have complied with the request.
OSCE launches guidebook on the role of civil society in addressing VERLT in SEE
On 17–18 October 2018, the OSCE held a regional meeting in Tirana, Albania, focused on discussing modalities for preventing and countering violent extremism and radicalisation that lead to terrorism (VERLT). Representatives of governments and civil society organisations from South Eastern Europe (SEE) shared experiences and good practices in strengthening the role and capacity of civil society in addressing VERLT, and outlined the need to enhance cooperation between government and civil society in addressing this complex security challenge. At the event, OSCE launched a guidebook on The role of civil society in preventing and countering violent extremism and radicalization that lead to terrorism: A focus on South-Eastern Europe. The publication provides guidance for policymakers and practitioners working on civil-society-led initiatives in the region, and addresses, among others, issues related to the use of the Internet in the spread of VERLT. Internet and tech companies, it is noted, have an important role to play in disrupting the abusive use of their platforms and supporting civil society initiatives, through activities such as developing tailored communication strategies and campaigns that change violent extremist narratives and promote tolerance and dialogue; support research on the misuse and exploitation of the Internet and social media platforms by violent extremist organisations; and providing online forums to allow victims to share their stories and engage in addressing VERLT.
ETNO’s 2019 strategy to focus on global digital leadership and innovation
The members and observers of ETNO, the European Telecom Network Operators Association, met in Cyprus for the 56th General Assembly. During the meeting, chaired by the Cyprus telecom operator Cyta, ETNO announced its strategic plans for 2019 based on two main pillars: an industrial policy for global digital leadership, and a focus on innovation, including the launch of ETNO’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Task Force. This task force is set to start operating already this year with a view to provide an exchange of knowledge among AI professionals and inform the respective policy debate. The role of digital and telecom innovation in empowering citizens will also be put at the core of association’s work next year.
Online gambling sites outlawed in Albania
The Parliament of Albania has passed a law forbidding online betting and other forms of gambling as of January 2019. Motivated by a need to address problems related to gambling addiction and match-fixing in sports competition, the law is expected to lead to the closure of slot machine parlours, betting shops and online gambling sites, among others, starting the beginning of next year. Gaming activities will only be allowed in designated non-residential area, and all online gambling operations will be deemed illegal. A task force is set to be created to monitor and shut down any online gambling site that operates in the country after the law enters into force. Before the adoption of the law in the Parliament, Albanian Prime-Minister Edi Rama also announced plans to penalise or even shut down media outlets which broadcast adverts of a gambling nature.
eCommerce Exhibition 18 | 1 November 2018 | Kyiv, Ukraine
OpenFest | 3–4 November 2018 | Sofia, Bulgaria
UNLIMITED 2018 | 5–7 November 2018 | Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
RIPE NCC Member Lunch | 6 November 2018 | Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
BIZIT 2018 – Industry 4.0 | 7–8 November 2018 | Belgrade, Serbia
SEE-IT SUMMIT | 7–9 November 2018 | Belgrade, Serbia
Macedonia2025 Summit | 7–10 November 2018 | Skopje, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Youth IGF Turkey | 8 November 2018 | Istanbul, Turkey
TeCOMM Conference&Expo | 9–10 November 2018 | Cluj-Napoca, Romania
DevReach 2018 | 12–14 November 2018 | Sofia, Bulgaria
European Conference on Ambient Intelligence| 12–14 November 2018 | Larnaca, Cyprus
GEW 2018 | 12–18 November 2018 | Skopje, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
BEL.BIZ Battle Startup Competition 2018 | 13 November 2018 | Minsk, Belarus
Albania Network Operators’ Group | 14 November 2018 | Tirana, Albania
AI Conference Kyiv 2018 | 14 November 2018 | Kyiv, Ukraine
GITI | 15–16 November 2018 | Tbilisi, Georgia
Central European Cybersecurity Conference – CECC 2018 | 15–16 November 2018 | Ljubljana, Slovenia
Codiax 2018 | 15–17 November 2018 | Cluj-Napoca, Sibiu, Romania
All Web | 16 November 2018 | Skopje, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
CodeCamp ‘18 | 17 November 2018 | Skopje, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
International Conference on Cyber-Technologies and Cyber-Systems| 18–22 November 2018 | Athens, Greece
5G – The Engine of the Fourth Industrial Revolution | 21 November 2018 | Bucharest, Romania
Grounded Festival | 21–23 November 2018 | Ljubljana, Slovenia
The Republic of Serbia Network Operators’ Group (RSNOG) | 22 November 2018 | Belgrade, Serbia
OMGcommerce Beograd | 22 November 2018 | Belgrade, Serbia
ITU Cyber Drill – ALERT for Europe Region | 26–30 November 2018 | Limassol, Cyprus
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