Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

Bulgarian control over Internet

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date:          Mon, 18 Jan 1999 17:52:42 -0500
From:          "Canadian Journalists for Free Expression" <>
Subject:       Bulgarian control over Internet
To:            <>

Dear GILC colleagues,
We received this message last week from Bulgaria about moves to
control the Internet which may be of interest. Regards, Kristina
Stockwood Canadian Journalists for Free Expression 489 College St.
#403 Toronto, ON M6G 1A5 Canada tel: +1 416 515 9622, fax: +1 416 515
7879 e-mail:

Date: Sunday, January 10, 1999 12:19 AM

Here follows an alert message about a recent attempt of the Bulgarian
authorities to put the Internet in Bulgaria under bureaucratic
control. We need the support of the democratic world.

Free Information & Civic Participation Societies, Bulgaria


Bureaucratic assault on the Internet

On Dec. 18, 1998, the chief of the Committee for Post and
Telecommunications (CPT) has signed a "List of telecommunication
services which are to be licensed". The List was silently placed as a
draft at the site of CPT and ten days later - on Dec. 29. 1998 - was
published in the State Gazette as final decision. In Section II
("General licences") of that List the Internet Service Providers were
included as liable to "general licensing" which as regulated by
Chapter V, section 5, Articles 75-80 of the Telecommunications Act
(TA) puts them under excessive bureaucratic control: the licensee has
to register with a State Commission for Telecommunications (SCT) and
to follow a number of ambiguous requirements already set in TA
(Art.78) and further (to be) specified by the SCT. The SCT can
terminate the registration of any provider (Art.80 of TA) if it only
considers that the requirements (set partially by itself) were not
met. So actually a legal provision is created allowing a state
administrative body to arbitrarily restrict and eliminate Internet
providers from the market. There is no legal basis justifying the
decision of the Telecom boss to include the Internet providing
services in the list for general licensing. The chief of CPT is acting
as a legislative authority regulating matters that are beyond his
prerogatives. The very procedure of semi-secret promulgating of that
List without previous discussion on the eve of Christmas and New Year
holidays (after experiencing a heated reaction to a previous attempt
of that kind in the spring of 1998) is quite indicative of the sly
oriental nature of some Bulgarian bureaucrats. They have played a fait
accompli game to the Bulgarian public making irrelevant the discussion
about the inclusion of Internet providers in the List of services
liable to general licensing. Restrictions to Internet access are not a
Bulgarian invention but they are predominantly an Asian occurrence. So
in China local ISPs must register, in Singapore Internet is regulated
as the broadcasting media (tv, radio), and web sites with religious
and political contents must register with the government. In Vietnam
and Saudi Arabia there's only one - state owned ISP. In India the
prices for leased lines are restrictively high. The Bulgarian
authorities are obviously taking the road to Asia instead of that to
Europe without consulting us - the Bulgarian citizens.

Send the following or your own appeal to the Bulgarian authorities
listed bellow and resend it to the Bulgarian Information Agency at (fax: 00359-2-802428)

The regime of licensing of Internet providers in Bulgaria as enacted
by an order of a sub-governmental Committee (the Order of the
President of the Committee for Post and Telecommunications of Dec.18,
1998) and the provisions of the Telecommunications Act (Art.76-80)
constitutes a serious restriction to freedom of information. The way
in which that change has been installed infringes the rule of law
principle since the regulation of an issue of highest significance has
been delegated to an executive authority. The public opinion has been
ignored - the citizenry has neither been consulted nor adequately
informed about official intentions. Such policies exhibit a fear of
truth and free communication and neglect the basic democratic
principles of freedom of information and rule of law. We appeal to the
Bulgarian authorities to revoke that recent act of departure from
democracy and to open for dialogue to the Bulgarian public in
designing and implementing democratic reforms in Bulgaria.


Mr.Petar Stoyanov
President of Republic of Bulgaria

Council of Ministers of Republic of Bulgaria
Fax: 00359-2-981-81-70

Mr.Antoni Slavinski, The President of the Committee for Post and

Bulgarian Information Agency
With best regards, Ivan Christof, pres. of Free Information Society,
Sofia, E-mail: Web: