We are pleased to provide you with a brief overview of the latest breaking news in Belarus law in the Communications, Media & Technology sector.

Communicating via Internet under New Rules

On 15 March 2016 the President signed the well-known Edict No. 98 On Improving Transmission of Electronic Messages. Its aim is to counter illegal traffic and unlicensed supply of telecom services. Right after the Edict was announced the authorised government body briefly explained the most heavily discussed provisions.

We would like to draw your attention to the following:

  • telecom users must not use subscriber numbers that do not belong to the caller during message transmission;
  • use of such messengers as Skype and Viber is allowed if: (a) the connection between Internet messengers is direct (e.g. Skype-to-Skype calls) or (b) a cooperation contract is signed between messenger owners and Belarusian operators;
  • software or hardware means for passing or terminating IP telephony must be registered. Exceptions include telephones, modems, answering machines and other terminal subscriber devices;
  • using and processing personal data for the purposes of the Edict do not require the consent of the individuals concerned;
  • if violations occur, the supply of telecom services can besuspended and passing traffic for IP telephony can beblocked.

Use of “CLIR”, “anonymisers” and “VPN channels” is not restricted by the Edict.

The main provisions of the Edict come into force on 18 September 2016.

Currently, introduction of an extra charge for certain services including Internet-messengers and OTT services is being worked out in Belarus.

Additional 5%: VAT on Telecom Services Increased to 25%

Since 1 April 2016 telecom service providers are taxed at the rate of 25% instead of the usual 20%. This is established by the Edict of the President No. 111 On Taxation and Minimum Living Wages. The increase in VAT will most probably be offset by the growth of tariffs for end users.

Special Regulation for Personal Data

The Plan for Preparing Draft Laws for 2016 includes development of a Law on Personal Data concept. It should be ready for the President’s approval by September 2017.

Note: currently, Belarus has no special law on personal data.

Toughening Liability for “Piracy

Innovations to the Code of Administrative Offences in the part on liability for possession for distribution of counterfeit works, other copyright and related rights objects came into force on 4 April 2016.

The main purpose is to hold liable mass distributors of “pirate” products, e.g. owners of resources similar to uTorrent.

Special administrative liability is set for attribution of authorship, compulsion to co-authorship, and disclosure of the essence of an industrial property object.

Programme for IT Development in 2016-2020

On 23 March 2016 the government approved the State Digital Economy and Information Society Development Programme for 2016-2020.

The programme provides for realisation of activities aimed, in particular, at implementing LTE and “smart home” technologies, development of an open key control system for verifying EDS, development of a paperless trade system, Service Delivery Platform (SDP) and Republican Cloud Platform.

EU GDPR Adopted

On 6 April 2016 the European Parliament and Council approved the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This will apply in all EU Member States likely between May and July 2018. The GDPR also covers non-EU residents that are either involved in processing personal data of EU residents, or direct their business activities to the EU. GDPR violations will be fined heavily: for minor errors up to 2% and for major errors 4% of global revenues of the company for the previous year. Company groups are fined based on their consolidated global revenue.