To President Leonid Kuchma
We are turning to you in the connection with the approval of the Law of Ukraine “On telecommunications” by the Supreme Rada of Ukraine. The human rights protecting organizations reckon that this law endangers the rights of Ukrainian citizens, contradicts the interests of the society and the Ukrainian state as a whole. We have to state that, unfortunately, neither the representatives of parliamentary majority nor the representatives of opposition were guided by the interests of the society during the consideration of the draft.
The Law of Ukraine “On telecommunications”, which was approved by the Supreme Rada, contains the norm that obliges the operators of telecommunications to install at their expense the equipment, which would allow the law-enforcing organs to collect the information from the communication channels. We understand that law-enforcing organs must resort to such measures for protecting the national security and guaranteeing the public order, but we also reckon that this norm will have the consequences negative for the Ukrainian society.
First, coming into force of this law in the present version means the monopolization of the market of telecommunication services by several great companies; this will hamper the development of the market and competition, will impede the development of the Internet in small settlements.
Secondly, even the USS officers admit that they does not know how much the installation of the monitoring equipment will cost to the providers of the telecommunication services (and, ultimately, to the users). We are surprised by the willingness of the members of the Ukrainian Parliament to burden the Ukrainian citizens with the expenses, which amount is even unknown yet.
Thirdly, the measures for guaranteeing the state security and public order are taken in interests of all Ukrainian society, so they must be financed by all tax payers, but not only the users of telecommunications.
Fourthly, coming into effect of this law will result in the increase of the tariffs for the telecommunication services. As a result, the majority of the Ukrainian citizens will not be able to pay for these services.
Fifthly, as the Supreme Rada Main scientific and expert bureau correctly pointed out in its conclusion, the idea to install the equipment for collecting the information from the communication channels at the expense of telecommunications providers contradicts to the norms of the operating Law of Ukraine “On entrepreneurial activities” (parts 2-3 Article 12 and part 2 Article 13), in particular in the part concerning the guarantees of property rights of businessmen.
Sixthly, the Supreme Rada of Ukraine has not considered yet the law draft “On monitoring of telecommunications”, which envisages the procedure of collecting the information from the communication channels. So, we think that the introduction of the norms about the installation of the monitoring equipment must be postponed until the legislation would regulate the questions of adequate protection of the constitutional right of citizens for the privacy of correspondence, the extent of the authorities of law-enforcing organs and the procedure of carrying out the monitoring.
Seventhly, the attempts of the Security Service of Ukraine to introduce its control over the access to the Internet, distribution of information, access to informational resources and domain names are realized in the drafts, prepared with the participation of the USS, such as “On telecommunications”, “On monitoring of telecommunications”, “On the activities in the sphere of informatization”, and these drafts have already evoked the negative reaction of many international organizations.
We hope for your sincere intentions to promote the development of informatization in Ukraine and the access of the Ukrainian citizens to the Internet, which intentions are reflected in Edict No. 928 “On the measures for the development of the national component of the global informational network Internet and guaranteeing the broad access to this network in Ukraine” of 31 July 2000. Thus, we are asking you to use your constitutional authorities and to return the Law of Ukraine “On telecommunications” to the Supreme Rada with the proposition to introduce the proper changes.
Secretariat of the Council of Ukrainian human rights protecting organizations
Sevastopol human rights protecting group
Kharkov group for human rights protection
Podilsk center of human rights
Center of juridical and political research “SIM”
Public committee of national security of Ukraine