In April 2019, NGO “Internews Ukraine” together with Ukrainian Foundation for Security Studies (UFSS) launched a project titled d Green Book on Internet Governance and Information Policy in Ukraine as an Advocacy Instrument in Process of Decision Making. The main aim of the project is to improve the quality of the development of new legislative initiatives in Ukraine in the area of internet and information policy.
The initial report of recommendations by stakeholders working is prepared in cooperation with UFSS. The report is based on notes and transcripts from three working meetings with representatives of civil society, the IT sector and three working meetings of government officials that are tangent to policy-making in the area of Internet governance. Notes from working meetings were prepared under the Chatham House Rule: the content of the discussion is public without the names of the participants. This document will form the basis of the Green Book – the key product of the project, which will become a practical handbook when working on legislative initiatives and will allow lawmakers to understand the context of challenges in the sphere of Internet and informational space taking into account international practices in the democratic world.
Representatives of both expert groups were asked the same questions about Internet governance, EU and NATO standards, regulatory documents in the Internet area, the main threats connected with the network today. Meetings with government officials and representatives of civil society were dedicated to see differences in views of stakeholders as well as form a common view on issues in the information and Internet areas.
- Vocabulary. Representatives of civil society and private business (IT community) use in their rhetoric definitions that are not used by representatives of government officials. The last one is governed by the letter of laws. The most part of Ukrainian laws are not adapted to the realities of the digital era. Verkhovna Rada of the 8th convocation made the first steps to introduce new terms.
- Rhetoric. Representatives of civil society in assessing social relations сome mainly from the standpoint of “rights and freedoms”, focusing on the position «Everything that is not forbidden by law is allowed». In return, government officials are guided primarily by the approach “the subjects of legal relationships are responsible for actions” and are guided by the principle “act accordingly to the letter of the law”.
- The lack of mechanisms for proving illegal actions online. There is no mechanism of guilty proving of committing offenses in the online in Ukraine. This allows courts to interpret at their discretion what can be considered as evidence in the Internet (screenshot or link to publication, etc.). Representatives of civil society may point to gaps in the legislation and doubt the legality of the actions of law enforcement agencies.
- Necessity to standardize gaps in legislation. All stakeholders point to the need to adapt legislation to current realities. Among the most pressing issues is the implementation of The EU Convention of Cybercrime, the development of legislation on counteracting misinformation, transparency of media ownership, and so on.
After discussions in both working groups, we can conclude that participants in different groups have a fundamentally different vision regarding the issues of Internet governance and legal relationships in online. This is a consequence of differences in interests, priorities and lack of effective communication between civil society and government officials.