More than a year ago Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine submitted draft of a law on state registration of information agencies. The draft proposes penalties for unregistered information agencies. While the effective law regulating information agencies defines its subject as any entity that “collects, processes, creates, stores, prepares information for distribution, produces and distributes informational products”.
In case the proposed law is adopted any website or blogger can be considered an unregistered information agency and have to pay penalties from $US 255 to $US 637.
The procedure of legislative drafts evaluation requires the favorable expert analysis by appropriate parliamentary institution and the positive verdict of a parliamentary committee that is dealing with the subject. Both experts and the committee declined the draft in 2010 and recommended to return it to Cabinet of Ministers for improvement. Despite the procedure the draft has not been returned and at the beginning of July appeared in the schedule of drafts to be voted in Parliament.
MP Andriy Shevchenko who leads the Parliamentary Committee on Freedom of Speech (the one that declined the draft in 2010) raised an alarm, published the fact in his blog, twitter and facebook and managed to make this draft to disappear from the schedule. However the draft is still listed on parliamentary website and Parliament could return to voting for it at any time.
Ukrainian government and some MPs had repeatedly voiced the idea to register websites in order to regulate their content. Usually they explain the initiative by the need to establish responsibility for libel and hate speech.