Turning Westward: Information Policies in Post Communist Romania and Bulgaria

Turning Westward: Information Policies in Post Communist Romania and Bulgaria

Alan Katerinsky (State University of New York at Buffalo, USA), Alex Pantaleev (State University of New York at Oswego, USA) and H. R. Rao (State University of New York at Buffalo, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-847-0.ch049
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This chapter is an examination of Eastern European information policy and practice. Our analysis will explore information policy of two countries in Eastern Europe in the context of cyber security, as exemplified in Bulgaria’s Legal and Regulatory framework and Romania’s uphill battle to fight cybercrime. In a larger context these nations highlight the struggle between freedom and security in cyberspace; a topic that is universal wherever technology intersects with politics and commerce.
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The 21st century faces new tests of international law and cooperation as well as the limits of national sovereignty. The Internet connects communicators throughout the world, dissolving former national boundaries with the flow of ideas. Since physical borders no longer exclude unwanted visitors, strong measures need to be taken to safeguard sensitive information in this interconnected world, while still allowing freedom of inquiry and expression. These tensions are most keenly felt in nations with a recent history of repressive rule, such as the former members of the Warsaw Pact. In the new reality of a post-Soviet world, Eastern Europe finds itself with new challenges such as weakened economies, ethnic divisiveness, and organized crime. Here technology may provide new answers, uniting disparate populations, creating new business opportunities and increased law enforcement capability. The rapid growth of the Internet has connected formerly divided populations and added a dimension of internationalism previously unattainable in society.

Unfortunately, technology has not been only positive in its effects on society. The ease of communication in the information age allows hate groups to form online communities. The lack of borders in the online world of the Internet makes it a truly international avenue for attack. Cybercriminals in Romania, for example, can attack servers anywhere in the world, steal personal information or plant automated programs that effectively remove the target system from the owner’s control.

In this essay we will compare and contrast information policy in the focus of legal and regulatory frameworks for Bulgaria and Romania. Although their recent historical experiences are similar, these nations emerged from the era of socialist domination with apparently different perspectives. Bulgaria was chosen as a subject because it looks to the West for inspiration and for its strategic future, Romania was chosen because it appears to have the least control of its rogue elements, though new developments give are quite promising. We will examine in detail the attitudes towards information policy as expressed in official communication channels of these nations.

We will also briefly touch on the dialog between liberty and security, played out in the case of Bulgaria in its legal framework, and in Romania in the quest for minimalist government in the form of decentralization (Government Press Office, 2009) versus “promotional government” in Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure strategy.

Key Terms in this Chapter

NATO: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a military alliance established by the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty on 4 April 1949. The NATO headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium, and the organization constitutes a system of collective defense whereby its member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party.

SovRoms: Economic enterprises established in Romania following the Communist takeover at the end of World War II, in place until 1954-1956 (when they were dissolved by the Romanian authorities). In theory, SovRoms were joint Romanian-Soviet ventures aimed at generating revenue for reconstruction, and were designed on a half-share basis in respect to the two states; however, they were mainly designed as a means to ensure resources for the Soviet side, and generally contributed to draining Romania’s resources.

Warsaw Pact: The Warsaw Pact was a group of Communist states in Central and Eastern Europe. The Warsaw pact was signed on May 14, 1955 in Warsaw, Poland. The pact was created so that if any country in the pact were to be the victim of aggression, the other countries in the pact would defend them. The Soviet Union initiated the pact in response to West Germany entering the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1955. As such, the treaty was a military-treaty organization initiated and sponsored by the Soviet Union and was the European Communist Bloc’s counterpart to NATO (Broadhurst. 1982).

Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCTI): One of the nineteen ministries of the Government of Romania, responsible for construction and implementation of the nation’s ICT policies.

Cyberfraud: The use of the Internet to perpetuate financial fraud, including, but not limited to; phishing emails to gather personal data from unsuspecting readers, fake items for sale on ebay, email scams that claim the recipient is owed money if they perform some transaction for the sender, phony investment schemes and identity theft. Many of these scams,are simply on line variants of fraudulent practices that have long existed off line. However, the Internet has given criminals access to a worldwide base of consumer targets as well as more opportunities to elude enforcement as they need not be in the same country, or even in the same hemisphere, as their victims.

EU: The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 member states, located primarily in Europe. It was established by the Treaty of Maastricht on 1 November 1993, upon the foundations of the pre-existing European Economic Community.

Comecon: The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance was an economic organization of communist states and a kind of Eastern Bloc equivalent to—but more geographically inclusive than—the European Economic Community. The military equivalent to the Comecon was the Warsaw Pact, though Comecon’s membership was significantly wider (Goodrich, 1988).

Cybercrime: Criminal activity involving an information technology infrastructure, including illegal access (unauthorized access), illegal interception (by technical means of non-public transmissions of computer data to, from or within a computer system), data interference (unauthorized damaging, deletion, deterioration, alteration or suppression of computer data), systems interference (interfering with the functioning of a computer system by inputting, transmitting, damaging, deleting, deteriorating, altering or suppressing computer data), misuse of devices, forgery (ID theft), and electronic fraud (Taylor 1999).

Soviet: A term used for communist governments, taken from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, of which Russia was the largest and most influential member. Alternatively known as the Soviet Union. A soviet is a council, the theoretical basis for the socialist society of the USSR.

Acquis Communautaire: The term acquis communautaire, or (EU) acquis, is used in European Union law to refer to the total body of EU law accumulated thus far. The term is French: acquis means “that which has been acquired”, and communautaire means “of the community”.

Darzhavana Sigurnost (DS): Bulgarian secret police under the rule of Communist Leader Todor Zhivkov. An internal security organization with great power and pervasive influence.

Brain Drain: A large emigration of individuals with technical skills or knowledge, normally due to conflict, lack of opportunity, political instability, or health risks. Brain drain is usually regarded as an economic cost, since emigrants usually take with them the fraction of value of their training sponsored by the government.

Information Society (IS): A society in which the creation, distribution, diffusion, use, integration and manipulation of information is a significant economic, political, and cultural activity.

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