free internet

Article A3 of Media Intervention Plan on "Internet Freedom in Uzbekistan" for 2022 report of the Freedom House international non-governmental organization

- guarantees of access to Internet resources;
- comments on the problem of access to certain social network resources (taking into account the interests of the state);
- analysis of the ongoing work to ensure information security.

In recent years, thanks to the political will of President Sh.M.Mirziyoyev, reforms have been carried out in the information sphere of the Republic of Uzbekistan in the field of ensuring public access to information, including on the Internet, by increasing the openness and transparency of the activities of state bodies, increasing guarantees of freedom of speech and the development of the media.

The Republic of Uzbekistan continues its policy of ensuring a full freedom of expression in our country and strengthening the media as a real fourth branch of government.

It should be emphasized that for these purposes, a close attention is paid to improving legislation taking into account advanced foreign experience. A solid legal framework has been created for the development of the media, ensuring freedom of speech and information, as well as improving the legal framework for activities and protection of professional rights of journalists.

More than 20 laws have been adopted in order to liberalize the activities of the media and ensure the rights of journalists. Mechanisms have been created from the state to support the media (provision of tax benefits and preferences, provision of state subsidies, grants and social orders, as well as social support for editorial staff).

An important aspect is the simplification of the procedure for registration and licensing of media activities, as well as the improvement of the procedure for registering websites on the global Internet as mass media.

In addition, legal mechanisms have been established to provide governmental support to journalists and creative teams by providing benefits and preferences for taxes and other mandatory payments, providing financial and social assistance, expanding the rights and obligations of the founder, editor, and journalist. All this contributes to the creation of legal, economic and organizational conditions that ensure freedom of activity, access to information, protection of mass media from illegal decisions of government agencies, actions or inaction of their officials.

Itshould be particularly noted that the current legislation has been amended accordingly in order to liberalize criminal liability. In particular, the punishment in the form of imprisonment for slander and insult has been abolished.

In general, there is a dynamic expansion of the information space of Uzbekistan due to the ongoing policy of support and development of media. So, over the past 5 years, the number of registered mass media has increased by 29% and amounted to 1,962 units. 677 of them are online media, which are updated daily with up-to-date information about events taking place in the country and abroad, analytical materials on socio-economic, socio-political issues. In addition, there are large number of users who identify themselves as a blogger and are actively engaged in media activities. It should be emphasized that in recent years there has been an activity of the media and civil society in the process of developing mechanisms for self-regulation of the information sphere.

In recent years, the restoration of technical access to the web resources of number of foreign publications and human rights organizations has been ensured. Among them are the websites "Voice of America", "Eurasianet", "BBC", "Deutsche Welle", "Amnesty International", "Human Rights Watch", "Reporters without Borders" (Reporters sans frontieres), etc.

In the latest "Press Freedom Index" for 2022, Uzbekistan improved its position by 24 points compared to last year's rating.

According to the report of the UN’s International Telecommunication Union for 2021, Uzbekistan was among the four countries that met the UN indicators on two percent availability of prices for broadband mobile Internet services.

As a result, the population of Uzbekistan is becoming an active Internet users, social networks are gaining more and more popularity in the country. At the same time, almost 55% of the population of the republic is young people. The most active users of social networks are mainly teenagers and young people under 35 years of age. Today, according to the Ministry for Development of Information Technologies and Communications of Uzbekistan, 27.2 million people use the Internet in the republic. 25 million of them use the mobile Internet and communicate in messengers.

The state policy in the field of informatization is aimed at creating an integral and self-sufficient national information system, taking into account current global trends in the development and improvement of information resources, technologies and systems.

According to the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan "On Informatization", the main directions of the state policy in the field of informatization are:

– realization of the constitutional rights of every citizen of the Republic of Uzbekistan to freely receive and disseminate information, ensuring access to information resources;

– creation of all favorable, exhaustive conditions for access to international information networks and to Internet worldwide information network.

In accordance with Article 121 "Dissemination of publicly available information on the Internet World Information Network" of the Law "On Informatization", the owner of a website or a page of a website or other information resource, including bloggers, is obliged to prevent the use of websites and (or) pages of a website or other information resource in the Internet worldwide network, in particular:

– calls for a violent change of the existing constitutional system, territorial integrity of the Republic of Uzbekistan;

– propaganda of war, violence and terrorism, as well as ideas of religious extremism, separatism and fundamentalism;

– dissemination of information inciting national, racial, ethnic or religious enmity, as well as discrediting the honor and dignity or business reputation of citizens, allowing interference into their private life;

– propaganda of pornography, the cult of violence and cruelty, as well as incitement to commit suicide.

As a result of monitoring conducted by the authorized body in the period 2021-2022, 4880 violations were detected on 980 information resources within the "UZ" domain zone.

In order to eliminate the mentioned violations, over 350 prescriptions were issued to Internet service providers, registrars and administrators of the "UZ" domain zone.

In case of non-compliance with the requirements of the legislation, a specially authorized body restricts access to websites and (or) pages of Internet websites, in strict accordance with the norms of national legislation.

The global processes of information globalization dictate not only the need for the widespread introduction of ICT into the economy and other spheres of life of countries, but also ensuring the security of information systems. The Republic of Uzbekistan is one of the first country in Central Asia joined to international security system in the field of information and communication technologies.

The Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan "On Principles and Guarantees of Freedom of Information" regulates measures to ensure information security at all three levels: individuals, society and the State. Therefore, this document is rightfully considered fundamental, on the basis of which public relations are regulated when receiving, using, storing data, in the field of information technology, including information security.

In accordance with Article 14 of this Law, the information security of society is achieved by ensuring the development of the foundations of a democratic civil society, freedom of the media, prevention of illegal informational and psychological impact onto public consciousness.

It should be noted that information security is one of the most important directions of the state policy of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

According to the International Telecommunication Union, the global damage caused by cybercrime amounted to about 6 trillion US dollars in 2021. Today, Uzbekistan pays special attention to strengthening cybersecurity at the national level.

In this connection, on April 5, 2022, Uzbekistan adopted the Law "On Cybersecurity". This document defines new principles for the development of the cybersecurity sector for the next decade, allows establishing international norms and standards of cybersecurity, strengthening cooperation with partners around the world to promote an open, stable and secure cyberspace.