Government and NGOs should pay closer attention to Kazakhstan’s internet mass media


Yelena Ilyinskaya

More and more Internet ousts alive communication, the importance of the former is undeniable though. Kazakhstan is paying close attention to the development of KazNet, however experts note many legal obstacles. This issue is being discussed in the course of the KITEL-2009 telecommunication exhibition which is being held in Almaty. Doctor of Philosophy at the International Journalism Department of the Al-Farabi Kazakh National University Stanislav Los shared his opinion on this issue in the international scientific conference “Information Security in the Media Space of Kazakhstan”.

The Government and Parliament of Kazakhstan are conducting preparatory work on amending the legislation related to Kazakhstani internet. National NGOs and international organizations are actively discussing the forthcoming changes. However there are several important issues influencing the KazNet development that have not been raised in the discussion, Stanislav Los says.

According to him, the Draft Law “On amendments to some legislative acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on information and communication networks” envisages 68 amendments. The most important one is recognizing all web-sites that publish information to be mass media. Most of the KazNet web-sites are potential mass media, hence the KazNet development is the matter of development of Kazakhstani journalism.

Different organizations and individual experts gave their opinions on the new bill, which reflects the government’s position in relation to the KazNet. “The authors of the bill have resolved this objective in a very simple, technocratic manner…” commented the Adil Soz Foundation and National Association of Television and Radio Broadcasters of Kazakhstan. The authors of the bill pursued their intention to equalize the multitude of websites with mass media and left behind the quality of work of these websites as mass media. There are no objections regarding the work specifics of the KazNet mass media; the matter is in publication of the information of foreign mass media, which will be forbidden if such information infringes the laws of Kazakhstan.

Despite the current regulatory legal acts, state programs and conceptions there are no clear instructions for online journalists to follow. As the matter of fact, internet mass media is equaled to ordinary mass media, but their specifics are ingnored. All cases of public regulation of the KazNet mass media come down to case law.

The model of Kaznet development was reflected in the Government’s resolution On the Concept of Formation and Fevelopment of Unified Information Space of Kazakhstan’s Segment of the Internet (Kaznet) for 2008-2012. The document points out that the Kaznet is based on these very mass media websites. The important part of these websites is their content. At that, Kazakhstan content is characterized as “undeveloped” or “weak”. Therefore the matter is in journalism, and the system of gathering, analysis and dissemination of information.

However, pointing out the main problem, Concept does not propose a solution. It should have contained specific provisions on mass media development, the benefits and preferences for the online journalists. Moreover, the Concept provides for usage of foreign information by domestic information resources, which contradicts to the principle of ensuring information security of the country, the expert states.

In his recent speech Executive Secretary of the Agency for Informatization and Communications B. Makhambetzahiev said that his Agency was working on solution of two priorities: mass attraction of children to the Kaznet and prevention of influence of illegal information on the Internet users.

S. Los considers that the government and NGOs should pay closer attention to the online mass media of Kazakhstan, to their status and responsibility of editorials, mechanisms of their work.

The Concept of the Kaznet development should be added provisions about internet mass media. The government must clearly formulate the way it wants online journalism to be. The owners and employees of websites must know their perspectives.

“The legal regulation of internet mass media must give a neat definition of all mass activities in the Kaznet – how to post information materials obtained from other websites, how to arrange relations with the authors of the articles and commentaries, and etc.”, Stanislav Los notes.

According to him, the issue of information security should not be limited to punishment only. It is important to prevent any offences. The specifics of the Kaznet websites is nonprofessional staff, low profit, and inability to afford a large staff – as a result it is impossible to track user comments. Therefore, special agencies (for instance, the Agency for Informatization and Communications) should be obliged to help the websites ensure the information security free of charge. IT experts might also assist by introduction of special programs automatically revealing any illegal information published on websites. Websites also need specialist help to prevent hackers from posting any information without the owners’ will.

In whole, Stanislav Los considers that legal barriers are caused by the lack of specific legal provisions on organization of internet mass media activity in Kazakhstan.