Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

Bulgarian government tries to control Internet Access. P

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

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 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, Internauts.

Please, send your letters to

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

Sincerely, Veni Markovski Chairman of the Internet Society - Bulgaria

P.S. More information about the issue in English can be found at our web site

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