On March 7, 2007 Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus publicized the Draft law on information, informatization and information protection developed by Ministry of communications and informatization and by the State Information Security Centre.The draft law stipulates major principles of the state policy in the sphere of informatization and information protection: public access to information, issues of information exchange, information protection, obligations and rights of the hardware and software owners.On July 31, 2007 the first discussion of the draft law by the parliamentary working group headed by T. Safronenko, vice -chairman of the Parliament Committee on industry, transport, communications and entrepreneurship (the first hearing). Together with parliamentarians, the working group includes lawyer M. Pastuhov, member of Belarusian Association of Journalists, S. Divin, head of the Inforpark association lawmaking committee, G. Naumenko, head of the department at the Academy of Science Informatics Institute , O. Seklitski, deputy head of the Ministry of communications Informatization department, and a number of experts of the Nationbal Lawmaking Center under the President of the Republic of Belarus., of the Ministry of Communications..The second parliamentary hearings on the draft law are scheduled for the autumn session of the Chamber of Representatives of the Belarusian Parliament. However T. Safronenko predicts that the current drfat can be declined by the Parliament members as the draft law has been heavily criticized by members of the working group, senior officials at the Presidential administration , by the civil society, Belarusian Association of Journalists in particular, and by international organizations, such as OSCE.As authors of the law, as well as members of the working group have been constantly stressing the importance of the international experience in the field, Foundation for Legal Technologies Development conducted an international expert evaluation of the draft law in April – July 2007 [see the list of experts in Appendix 1]According to experts opinions:
- the authors should specify the purpose of the regulation, determine specific goals for each of the spheres covered, or, alternatively, develop separate legal instruments (Linda Austere).
- the law tries to cover so different aspects for which other countries have developed other laws , so the draft has no focus at all (Ivar Tallo).
- my assessment is that this law in its current form does not improve the situation in any way neither from the point of view of citizen nor a bureaucrat because of instead of creating clear rules of play it is totally ambiguous and allows for arbitrariness of decisions at any step which is exactly what this type of law is generally meant to prevent or rectify. So leaving aside general democratic principles, it will not even help to streamline the government work and the only people who might benefit in the short term from it are heads of institutions who would have a chance to decide how they see fit My assessment is that this law (Ivar Tallo).
- most important questions are: the consequences of the law if it is adopted;this will depend on implementation – the biggest problem is that the provisions are so wide and the provisions for implementation so vague that the legislation offers significant possibilities for abuse (Joe McNamee).
- the terms used are confusing and very detailed defined, without any concrete purpose.I will suggest to rather have in a separate document what is the purpose of the law (in 3 paragrahs) and what it tries to regulate ( with bullet points). Also, it could be good if Belarus can “talk” the same language as the EU in this field, so about information society services (online services), electronic communication providers ( telecoms and ISP) and doesn’t try to create something new that will be applied and (perhaps ?) understood only in Belarus (Bogdan Manolea) .
- creation of a state system of control frontally contradicts freedom of information as the right to hold opinions and to receive impart information and ideas without interference by public authorities, as defined by the European Court of Human Rights. (Jean-Eric de Cockborne)
See detailed information:Appendix 1. List of experts Appendix 2 Linda Austere. Draft Law on Information, Informatization and Information Protection. Comments and Recommendations Appendix 3 Klemen Ticar. Draft Law on Information, Informatization and Information Protection. Comments and Recommendations Appendix 4. Shorter comments by international experts Appendix 5. Draft Law on information, informatization and information protection (unofficial translation)Online version : e-belarus.org/docs/expertise_eng.pdfIn Russian: e-belarus.org/docs/expertise.pdf