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[FYI] (Fwd) Bulgarian government tries to control Internet Access. P

------- Forwarded message follows -------
Date sent:      	Thu, 30 Sep 1999 21:53:01 +0200
From:           	"veni markovski" <veni@veni.com>
Subject:        	Bulgarian government tries to control Internet Access. Please, help us!
To:             	<gilc-plan@gilc.org>, <ifea-plan@ifea.net>,
Send reply to:  	gilc-plan@gilc.org

Dear colleagues,

The Internet Society - Bulgaria is requesting help from International
organizations like GILC, EFF, ISOC. The issue is concerning an
executive order of the Bulgarian Committee of Posts and
Telecommunications (CPT), a ministry-level government agency. It
stated that local ISPs should become subject to general licensing. The
proposes statutes require that ISPs apply for operators' licenses and
pay fees to the state. Based on the Telecommunications Act, it also
gives to governmental employees to enter ISPs offices at any time and
obtain any documentation, including user names and passwords, as well
as other private information.

After the first articles were published in the Bulgarian newspapers,
Antoni Slavinski, chief executive of the CPT, said that Internet
content should be scrutinised for illegal activities, including racist
appeals, child pornography and terrorist training. "We have thought,
that in the beginning, there could be some very general restrictions,"
he says.

Bulgarian Internet users promptly denounced that proposal, charging
that it would bring Bulgaria closer to the less-than-democratic
Internet clubs of Russia, Iran, Iraq, Cuba, China... In Russia, the
FSB, successor to the KGB, demanded that every ISP allow the
authorities access to and control of their servers' content.

Slavinski's comments added to fears that Bulgaria's government is
really after tighter control over local Internet access and content,
combined with an opportunity to help fill the state coffers. Licenses
are a threat because they can be rejected at government officials'
whim, the ISOC-Bulgaria warns.

Mario Tagarinski, minister of the state administration, envisions a
"tame" Internet. In his opinion, the site www.bulgaria.com should not
be "used by, say, a few young people, interested in sex." Local press,
TV and radio expressed fears that the government's plans for the
Internet are further proof of its ultimate goal, to control the media
as a whole.

A promise made by state officials, which pundits find laughable, is
that licensing would protect Bulgarian users from hackers attacks.
ISOC-Bulgaria believes this should be settled down in the Criminal
(Penal) code.

CPT says the Internet license would cost only 2.3 % of the ISPs
turnover. For 1999, the Bulgarian government decided the licenses fee
would be 0 % of the ISPs turnover. Noone can say if it wouldn't be
higher next year. However, even a $ 5 increase in the current $ 20 /
month rate for individual Internet access would be cost-prohibitive
for many users.

The government officials couldn't supply even ONE reason why Internet
licensing will be for the good of the people.

ISOC-Bulgaria, Alpha research, and the World of Internet biweekly have
made 3 separate surveys among users, ISPs and in the country. More
than 96% of all people are against the proposed licensing. 100 % of
the ISPs would like to see it turned down.

ISOC-Bulgaria has filed a claim in the Supreme Court that the decision
to license ISPs violates existing telecom legislation in Bulgaria, the
Constitution and art. 10 of the European Convention on Human rights.
In response, the Supreme court passed an interim order June 17 to
suspend lincensing for ISPs until a final decision.

In the meantime, the Commission on Monitoring (CoM) from the
Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council (PACE) has written a
report on the overall situation in Bulgaria where it claims the
proposed licensing is a step backwards in the democratic development
of Bulgaria. (Almost as a joke sounds the story about the chief of the
State Commission on Telecommunications (STC), who has sent a letter to
the CoM stating at least 4 false points regarding the Internet
licensing. Later on he denied in writing to the Supreme Court that he
had sent this letter. However, it was clearly written in English, was
requested by the CoM, and was quoted in its report)

ISOC-Bulgaria was supported in writing by Vinton Cerf, then Chairman
of the Internet Society; Don Heath, President of the Internet Society,
8 west europeans chapters of the Internet Society; the Committee of
Bulgarians in Sweden; the Center for citizens control over acts and
actions of the administration; the Bulgarian Internet Association; the
Bulgarian Association for Information Technologies; the Gergiovden
movement (a strong youth party); and last week the German Chancellor
Shroeder had stated - during a speech at the Technical University -
that the Internet should be free from licensing OR registration. Which
is also what article 4 of the German Law on telematic services says.

ISOC-Bulgaria is looking for support from organizations, individuals,

Please, send your letters to isoc@isoc.bg

We are also very much interested to hear what's the situation in your
own country, so please, let us know!

Veni Markovski
Chairman of the Internet Society - Bulgaria

P.S. More information about the issue in English can be found at our
web site http://www.isoc.bg/kpd/

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